Archaeologists have just discovered an opulent fresco of Narcissus, which is still in extraordinary condition inside of a newly excavated house in Pompeii.
As the Guardian reported, the discovery of the Narcissus fresco was officially announced to the public on Thursday, and the painting was found within the atrium of a majestic home in the Regio V district, where archaeologists last November also recovered a fresco depicting Leda and the Swan, which was taken straight out of Greek mythology.
As site director Alfonsina Russo noted, it was the breathtaking beauty of this Pompeii home that convinced archaeologists to continue with their excavations, especially as the house had already yielded so many treasures.
“The beauty of these rooms has led us to modify the project and continue the excavation. In the future this will allow us to open at least part of this domus to the public. Its excavation has been possible in the context of the broader intervention of stabilization and re-profiling of the excavation fronts, overseen by the Great Pompeii Project.”
Archaeologists believe that the Narcissus fresco was most likely conceived and painted during “the last years of the colony,” yet the volcanic blast which left Pompeii buried beneath ash, pumice and rubble in 79 CE did nothing to diminish the effects of the charming good looks or reflection of this mythological hunter.
The rich details of the fresco itself are tremendous, and in it, Narcissus can be seen reclining languidly beside a jade-colored pool with his reflection, according to tradition, gazing lovingly back.
A small winged creature can also be spotted beside Narcissus, which archaeologists surmise may be Eros, who is trying his hardest to distract the hunter and pull him away from his bewitching reflection in the pool. Next to Eros is a dog, who is also attempting to pull Narcissus away from the water while he digs impatiently at the hunter’s bright red clothing.
Archaeologists said they uncovered a remarkably well-preserved fresco depicting the story of Narcissus, the hunter who fell in love with his reflection in a pool https://t.co/piomWhQo6R
— The New York Times (@nytimes) February 15, 2019
Directly inside of the Pompeii atrium where the Narcissus fresco was found, archaeologists discovered the remains of a stairway which would have carried visitors to the upper floor of the home. In the atrium were also a large number of glass containers as well as eight amphorae and a bronze funnel.
Because of the astounding richness and elegance of this Pompeii home, Sophie Hay, from the University of Cambridge archaeology department, believes that it was once “a grand residence with a wealthy owner.”
With the poet Ovid bringing Greek myths to the Roman world, Pompeii residents were deeply enthralled with this figure, and according to ANSA, Pompeii Superintendent Massimo Osanna explained that Narcissus was an extremely common theme within the artistic community of this city, describing how with a fresco such as this one “the whole ambience is pervaded by the theme of joie de vivre.”
The most recent excavations in Pompeii, which have revealed the stunning fresco of Narcissus, are in a location very close to the edge of the site which is particularly prone to collapse, but if all goes according to plan, part of this area may be open to the public at a later date.