A room with new unpublished frescoes of characters from the Trojan War has been discovered in Pompeii

Helen and Paris (credit: Archaeological Center of Pompeii – Ministry of Culture)

THE new excavations in Regio IX of Pompeiiwhich began in 2023, have brought to light a great party and reception roomprobably part of one residence wider. Much to the surprise of the archeologistsinside the hall were found, on a black background, the depictions of characters from Trojan Warlike Paris, Helen, Cassandra and Apollo.

What archaeologists discovered

Work began in Pompeii in 2023 along the perimeter of the Archaeological Park they aim to rectify and secure some areas still to be excavated, but during the course of the activities numerous new features have come to light, such as some tunnels used in the past by grave robbers to plunder the archaeological site. The hall that emerged during the excavations is located inside theinsula (block) 10, already known for the presence of two other houses, connected to each other and equipped with a bakery and one fullonica (laundry).

The reception room was probably a room used for banquetslarge: 15 meters long And 6 meters wide. The hall communicated directly with a service courtyard where they were found, piled under a staircase, construction materials. As in other attested cases in Pompeii, this house was probably also located in renovation at the fateful moment eruption of 79 AD Together with the construction material, two charcoal drawings were also found on a wall of the courtyard: two gladiators and a phallus.

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The frescoes in the hall were painted on black backgrounda rather common expedient in Roman times to prevent the walls from getting dirty due to the smoke from the lamps. The pictorial style with which the figures were represented is of great quality and very refined, and can be dated to the very last years of the 1st century BC

What do the frescoes depict about the Trojan War

The characters of the frescoes on a black background found in Pompeii and depicting episodes of the Trojan War have been represented with great realismat the center of the walls, in real figurative scenes: the theme is the mythological couples. The characters chosen are Paris and Elena (also identified by a caption in Greek) e Cassandra And Apollo.

Apollo and Cassandra Pompeii Trojan War
Apollo and Cassandra (credit: Pompeii Archaeological Center – Ministry of Culture)

The first couple, according to the Homeric tale, was among the causes of the outbreak of the Trojan War. Elena was the wife of Menelaus, king of Sparta, but fell in love with Paris, prince of Troy. The two fled together, and to avenge the insult, Menelaus gathered the Greek fleet together with his brother Agamemnon. In the painting found in Pompeii, Helen is depicted in the company of a handmaid, while she places her gaze on her and Paris holds out his hand to her. The Trojan prince is depicted in oriental clothing, with a large dog crouching at his feet.

The other couple represented is Apollo, god of music and of prophecyand by the Trojan princess Cassandra, daughter of the king Priam. Cassandra is depicted sitting, in a pose that has been interpreted as a sign of despair. In front of her, the god, dressed only in a blue cloak resting on her shoulder, looks at her while leaning on a lyre. According to the myth, Cassandra was gifted with the gift of the prophecy. Apollo fell in love with her, but she did not want to give herself to the god, except for punish her he made sure that every prophecy of the girl remained unheard.

The choice of these pictorial themes for the decoration of convivial environments it was quite common. In this way, by observing the paintings, the guests found ideas and stimuli to chat about a variety of topics.

When the Trojan War had not yet been decided. The black hall with III style frescoes in Regio IX, insula 10 of Pompeii