I did a day
trip from Napoli to Pompeii as part of my Grand European Motorcycle Tour
on the Old Bitch. After all the fun and games involved through
Napoli's famously chaotic traffic, I decided to park the bike for a few
days and take the train out to Pompeii.
It was well
worth the visit and I spent many hours getting completely lost in the
ruins of the most famous city in the Roman Empire. Several years
later, I read
Pompeii By Robert Harris. I wish I'd read the book before I'd
seen the ruins. The book really helps to bring the ruins to life (in
the same way I guess as Wilbur Smith's Egyptian series). I highly
Here's the photos of my visit (and a few I stole).
Around The Forum
with the Temple of Jupiter and Arch of Nero at the rear
of Vespasian. The temple altar is at the centre. The raised area toward
the rear was likely constructed to house the statue of the deity for which
the temple was named.
Close up of
of the Forum. The reconstructed Doric columns on the right mark the
entrance to the Building of Eumachia.
The building functioned as
the cloth market and is so named as they found a
marble statue of Eumachia there. Eumachia apparently was a priestess
of Venus who shelled out the cash to build it there. She obviously
thought the clothes shopping was pretty dire when she arrived in Pompeii
and decided to build her own market/shopping centre.
Burbs And The Villas
I can remember of find out what this part of town was but there was a lot
of it. I suspect it's along the Via Di Nola somewhere.
inside the Stabian or Forum Baths (no idea which).
joint roman style. Around the city are many place like this where
the locals could pop in and get a quick bite to eat. Inside the
holes were pottery vats filled with hot or cold drinks, soups, or
street in the burbs. Near the red lady, you can see stepping stones
in the middle of the street. Water was often flowing in the streets
from overflowing public fountains and waste water was commonly thrown out
into the streets. To keep one's feet clean and dry, it was necessary to
cross where stepping stones were placed.
Venus in the Shell
essentially is built around the garden. On the bottom wall there is a
painting portraying the birth of Venus from a shell in the company of
Here she is
hairstyle follows the fashion popular during Nero's reign. A statue of
Mars and marble basins with doves are also painted.
Venus looking back toward the entrance.
Atrium of an
You can still make out the paint on the walls.
The Theatre District
Here is an
aerial view of Pompeii between the Forum in the upper left and the
theatres in the lower right. Adjacent to the large theatre to the left in
the trees is the Triangular Forum.
The big grassy square with
the porticos behind the stage of the theatre was originally used as a
foyer for the public during intermission.
The general lack of
buildings due to the earthquake of 62 A.D. caused it to be transformed
into a gymnasium and hotel for the gladiators and their families. That's
why it is called Gladiators' Barracks.
The body of a fettered slave
and that of a bejewelled matron gone to see a young gladiator were found
during the excavation. Obviously a whole lot of loving was going on.
at The Theatre.
could hold 5,000 spectators. Built in the Samnite period during the second
century B.C., it underwent several reconstructions.
shape essentially dates back to the restoration carried out in the
Augustan period by the architect Marcus Artorius Primus thanks to the
munificence of Marcus Holconius Rufus and Marcus Holconius Celer,
according to the inscriptions. The construction on a hill-slope is typical
of Greek architecture.
The seats of
the ordinary spectators were located inside the cávea, the wider seats at
the bottom had comfortable chairs (bisellia) were for important people,
while the two lateral boxes (tribunalia) over the entrances of the
orchestra (vomitoria) were reserved for very important people.
Theatre was the Temple of Isis.
The Temple of Isis consists
of a cell on a high podium with a staircase on its front. In front of it
to the left there is a sacrificial altar. On the side of the altar there
is a temple-shaped entrance which leads to a reservoir that used to
contain the sacred water of the Nile.
I found it
really interesting as I'd spent time at the
Temple of Isis in Egypt
The amphitheatre of Pompeii
is the oldest of those we know from the Roman world. It was built after
the foundation of the settlement (80 B.C.) by order of the mayors Gaius
Quintius Valgus and Marcus Porcius, those who also ordered the
construction of the Odeon. After the earthquake it was restored by order
of the mayors Gaius and Cuspius Pansa, father and son. The building was
erected in a peripheral area to avoid traffic jams in the city on the
occasion of shows. The monumental stairs on the outside lead to the cavea
with the spectators' seats. It could hold up to 20,000 spectators. The
main part of the steps and of the upper balcony reserved for women is
still intact. The level of the arena is lower than the outside area. This
means that the theatre was partly built upwards and partly set into the
ground like the Coliseum.
Fights between gladiators
used to take place inside the arena. The games were opened by a solemn
parade. The wrestlers wore heavy and completely decorated parade armours,
helmets, dagger, shields and jambs. In 59 A.D. the spectators' enthusiasm
led to a bloody brawl between the supporters of Pompeii and those of
Nuceria. The event was “photographed” in a famous Pompeian painting. After
the riots, Rome's Senate inflicted a ten-years “disqualification” on
Pompeii's arena, but the measure was withdrawn in 62 A.D. because the
earthquake had severely hit all citizens.
If you want
to find out out more about Pompeii on the web (and where I stole some of
the text and a a few of the photos), check out the following sites:
Pompei Sepolta - Travelling
backwards 2000 years
Pompeii Virtual Tour - a bit of a Christian perspective but good
content apart from the absence of the Brothel and any thoughts on
eroticism in roman times.
Tour Of Italy For
The Financially Challenged - Pompeii