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Archeological Object

Fresco depicting Thetis in Hephaestus' workshop

Fresco depicting Thetis in Hephaestus' workshop

The fresco, painted in Fourth Style, illustrates the Homeric episode of the eighteenth book of the Ilyiad, when the goddess Thetis, mother of the hero Achilles, went to the god Hephaestus to collect the weapons that she had commissioned for her son. On the left, seated on some marble steps, is Hephaestus: the god, whose face is blackened by the smoke of the forge, his hair ruffled and dishevelled due to the sweat, wears a short tunic and a pileus; in his left hand, he holds the oval shield that has just been forged, helped by another central figure whose upper body is missing. Lower down on the left is a male figure with a skullcap; he is a cyclops, an assistant of the god, who is seated with his back bent by the effort and is finishing off the crested helmet in front of him with a burin and a hammer; some of his tools are visible on the floor, and include a pair of tongs. In the centre, lying on the ground, are the decorated cuirass and the greaves which have been very carefully made by the god; even the detailed parts are chased in gold. On the right, the goddess Thetis is seated on a marble throne. She wears a chiton, himation and sandals, with her left arm bent, and the elbow of her right arm leaning on the arm of the chair and her chin resting on her hand; her gaze seems to be catalysed by her own reflection in the shining surface of the shield. Behind her is a handmaid. The scene probably takes place in the goddess’ palace, generically shown by a portico with a Doric column in the foreground; behind this is a wall covered almost entirely by hangings, and in the top right-hand corner, right at the back, is a window with curtains. The subject of the fresco seems to have been a particular favourite of the inhabitants of Pompeii, like other themes from the Ilyiad, since it also features in other houses in the town. The model that inspired the artists was almost certainly the work of a Hellenistic painter even though, as was often the case, Roman painters completely or partly re-worked the composition to suit the tastes of local patrons. The decision to display a fresco of this type in a house probably suggests a celebratory intention on the part of the owner who, by using a heroic-divine theme, sought to glorify himself and his own loyalty to central power by selecting a theme beloved to the emperor.

Further information
Codici (Label is not translated)
  Ente_competente: Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici delle Province di Napoli e Caserta
  SGTI: Teti e Efesto
Localizzazione_geografico-amministrativa (Label is not translated)
  PVCS: Italia
  regione: CAMPANIA
  provincia: Napoli
  comune: Napoli
  LDCT: palazzo
  Name: Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli
  Indirizzo: Piazza Museo, 19 - 80135
  Location: First floor, Room LXXIII
Altre_localizzazioni_geografico_amministrative_reperimento (Label is not translated)
  PRVS: Italia
  regione: CAMPANIA
  provincia: Napoli
  comune: Pompei
Dati_patrimoniali (Label is not translated)
  Inventory number: 9529
  INVD: 1863 post
Modalita_di_reperimento (Label is not translated)
  SCAN: Casa di Paccius Alexander
  DSCD: 1866/05/25
Dati_tecnici (Label is not translated)
  MISU: cm.
  Height: 159
  Width: 113
Dati_analitici (Label is not translated)
  Inscriptions - text:

Condizione_giuridica_e_vincoli (Label is not translated)
  CDGG: proprietà Stato
Fonti_e_documenti_di_riferimento (Label is not translated)

Helbig 1868, n. 1318, pp. 290-291; Ruesch 1370; Reinach 1922, n. 1, p. 19; Elia 1932, n. 130, p. 70, tav. IV; Schefold 1957, p. 235; Seider 1968, p. 62; Collezioni Museo 1989, I, 1, n. 98, pp. 136-137; LIMC V, 1, 1990, p. 978, s.v. Kedalion, n. 1; LIMC V, 2, 1990, p. 617; Ling 1991, pp. 125-126, fig. 128; LIMC VI, 1, 1992, p. 807, s.v. Nereides, n. 302; LIMC VI, 1, 1992, pp. 157-158, s.v. Kyklops, Kyklopes, n. 32; De Caro 1994, p. 163; LIMC VIII, 1, 1997, p. 291, s.v. Vulcanus, n. 90; PPM VIII, 1998, n. 17, pp. 878-879; Cantarella 1999, p. 128; De Caro 1999, pp. 138; Homo Faber 1999, n. 334, p. 261; Pompeii 1999, n. 334, p. 261; De Carolis 2000, p. 45; Pompeii 2000, p. 47; Pompeji 2000, n. 334, pp. 116-117; Gallo 2002, pp. 41-47; Ancient Roman Civilization 2003, pp. 162-163; Glycera 2004, n. 7, p. 10.