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Home Culture Several frescoes about the Trojan War come to light in Pompeii in an imposing banquet hall | Culture

Several frescoes about the Trojan War come to light in Pompeii in an imposing banquet hall | Culture

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The treasure chest of Pompeii has been reopened. Archaeologists continuing to excavate the city devastated by the explosion of Vesuvius in 79 AD have discovered an imposing banquet hall decorated with elegant frescoes with mythological themes inspired by the Trojan War. The exceptional state of conservation of the paintings takes the visitor back to Ancient Rome and evokes the celebrations and conversations that took place in the enormous room, enlivened and inspired by the majestic representations on the walls.

The Pompeii archaeological park highlights the high standard of living of the owners and guests of the banquet hall. “It is a refined environment in which to enjoy moments of conviviality, between banquets and conversations, in which one could breathe a high standard of living, as attested by the dimensions of the space, the presence of frescoes and mosaics, the artistic quality of the paintings and the choice of themes.”

In this case, experts have explained that the dominant theme in the frescoes seems to be that of heroism, which can be seen in the representations of couples of heroes and gods of the Trojan War. The compositions, according to Pompeii scholars, also reflect on the question of destiny, and “on the possibility, often misunderstood, that man has of being able to change his destiny.”

On the walls of the great hall run the characters that Homer describes in the Iliad, such as the protagonists Helena, considered the daughter of Zeus in Greek mythology, and Paris, prince of Troy, who in the Pompeii fresco is mentioned in a Greek inscription as Alexander (Alejandro), his other name. In addition, there is the figure of Cassandra, paired with the god Apollo and who was the daughter of Priam, considered the last king of Troy, on the throne at the time of the war.

The most popular version of the Greek myth says that Apollo promised Cassandra the gift of prophecy to seduce her, but when the young woman discovered his intentions she rejected him, the god became angry and decided to keep the gift for her, but accompanied by the curse that no one believe his predictions. In this way, Cassandra could see what was going to happen in the future, but no one believed her predictions. Thus, she predicted the deception of the Trojan horse and the fall of the city, but no one listened to her and she was not able to prevent the tragedy. She ended up as a slave to King Agamemnon in Mycenae.

The experts from the Archaeological Park of Pompeii explain that “the frequent presence of mythological figures in the paintings of the living and social rooms of Roman houses had precisely the social function of entertaining guests and diners, providing ideas for conversation and reflection on existence.”

The walls of the immense hall on which the mythological figures appear were painted black to prevent the smoke from the oil lamps from being seen on the walls, as pointed out by the director of the Archaeological Park of Pompeii, Gabriel Zuchtriegel. “People gathered here to celebrate after sunset, the flickering light of the oil lamps made the images seem to move, especially after a few glasses of good Campanian wine,” explained Zuchtriegel. And he pointed out that the mythological couples on the walls were intended to inspire attendees “to talk about the past and life.” “Apparently, they were of a purely loving nature. In reality, they talk about the relationship between the individual and destiny: Cassandra who can see the future, but no one believes her, Apollo who sides with the Trojans against the Greek invaders, but despite being a god he is incapable of ensure victory, Helena and Paris, who with their politically incorrect love are the cause of the war, or perhaps just a pretext, who knows. Today, Helena and Paris are all of us: every day we can choose whether to worry only about our intimate lives or explore how this life of ours is intertwined with the big story, thinking for example not only about wars and politics, but also about the climate. human that we are creating in our society, communicating with others in person and on social networks,” reflected the director of the Park.

The banquet hall that housed the frescoes measures approximately 15 meters long by six meters wide and opens onto a patio that looks like an open-air service corridor, with a long staircase leading to the first floor, devoid of decoration. Under the arches of the staircase, a huge pile of construction material was found and someone had drawn with charcoal, on the rough plaster, two pairs of gladiators and what appears to be a huge stylized phallus.

Heritage protection

The excavations of insula 10 of Regio IX, where the hall is located, are part of a broader project that aims to ensure a perimeter between the excavated and unexcavated area to protect the vast Pompeian heritage. So far, among other things, two houses connected to each other have been discovered in the area, a house with a bakery and a laundry, which faced Via Nola, one of the main streets of the ancient city, and whose facades have already been removed. from the ashes at the end of the 19th century. Behind these two houses, in this phase of excavation, sumptuous living rooms decorated with frescoes are emerging, which were under construction at the time of the volcano eruption.

The Italian Minister of Culture, Gennaro Sangiuliano, has defended the commitment to promote more excavations of Pompeii, which, for some years, has been living a second life, after a period of abandonment and corruption. “Pompeii is truly a treasure chest that never ceases to surprise and amaze us because, every time we dig, we find something beautiful and meaningful. “We believe in this unique place in the world that is Pompeii and that is why we have financed new excavations in the budget law,” the minister declared.

The General Director of the Italian Museums, Massimo Osanna, former director of the Archaeological Park of Pompeii, has highlighted the value of the new sites as “a demonstration of how a well-done excavation in the city of Vesuvius can continue to increase our knowledge about one of the places most important that have survived from antiquity. And he has detailed the recent achievements that Pompeii has contributed to archeology and history: “New and unpublished paintings, new data on the great works that were in Pompeii at the time of the eruption, new discoveries about the economy and forms of production . “It is an extraordinary collection of data that is changing the hitherto codified image of the ancient city.”

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