Fresco from Pompeii (Caupona of Euxinus, I. 11. 10—11).
123 × 124 cm.
Inv. No. 41671.Naples, National Archaeological Museum


Fresco from Pompeii (Caupona of Euxinus, I. 11. 10—11).
123 × 124 cm.
Inv. No. 41671.

Naples, National Archaeological Museum
(Napoli, Museo archeologico nazionale).

This fresco on a white ground shows a bird, which can be identified as a pheasant by its yellow and red plumage, in profile among vegetation and flowers with other birds in flight or perched on branches. The upper part of the painting is decorated with a floral garland tied at the ends and in the middle forming festoons. The pheasant has an Egyptian crown on its head shaped like a sun between horns, and suggests the mythical phoenix, the symbol of the resurrection. Below are the words: PHOENIX. FELIX. ET. TV. At the bottom of the painting are two facing peacocks among vegetation.

This fresco was situated outside, on the left-hand column at the entrance to the Caupona of Euxinus, discovered in 1955 during the excavations directed by Amedeo Maiuri in Regions I and II. It has been possible to identify the owner thanks to the discovery inside the building of three amphorae bearing his name and an electoral manifesto in which Euxinus recommends the election of Q. Postumius and M. Cerrinius as aediles in the town. The tavern where Euxinus lodged is one of the many premises used for catering strategically placed near the Amphitheatre and the Great Palaestra, which were obviously very popular with the local inhabitants. The inscription painted below the image of the phoenix can be translated as “The phoenix is happy [I hope it is] and you too”, which can be interpreted as a wish that the customers of the tavern will continue to drink there. The fresco with the phoenix is part of a group of vernacular paintings (see La pittura di Pompei, 1991, pp. 267—273) which are helpful in identifying businesses, a type of painting not found in the other Vesuvian towns.

Ernesto De Carolis
Pompéi, exhibition catalogue, Paris 1973, no. 213;
Pompei 1748—1980, I tempi della documentazione, exhibition catalogue, Rome 1981, pp. 159—160;
Pitture e Pavimenti di Pompei, I—III, Rome 1981—1986, 1981 I, p. 156;
Pompei. Pitture e mosaici, Rome 1990, II, p. 572;
De Carolis, in Pompeii. Picta fragmenta. Decorazioni parietali dalle città sepolte, exhibition catalogue, Turin 1997, p. 164, no. 147;
De Carolis, in Pitture nella Reggia dalle città sepolte. Affreschi antichi da Pompei, Stabiae, Ercolano, exhibition catalogue, Naples 1999, p. 89, no. 50.
© 2001 Photo, text: Pompeii. Images from the buried cities. Electa, Napoli, 2001, p. 89, no. 32.
Keywords: ζωγραφικήί pictura ars picturae painting pittura malerei peinture φρεσκογραφία τοιχογραφία νωπογραφία wall fresco frescos frescoes opera parietale murale opere parietali murali affresco affreschi freskomalerei frischmalerei wandmalerei fresko fresken fresque fresques pintura mural ρωμαϊκές roman romana romano romani römisch römische römisches römischen römischer romain romaine romains romaines from pompeii caupona of euxinus i 11 bird phoenix tavern eating-house cook-shop vegetation flora verdure flower garland festoon festoons inscription felix et tv inv no 41671