Stunningly preserved fresco of Narcissus discovered in Pompeii

Mythological hunter is depicted enraptured by his own reflection

Archaeologists working in a richly decorated house in ancient Pompeii have discovered a stunningly preserved fresco depicting the mythological hunter Narcissus enraptured by his own reflection in a pool of water.

The figure of Narcissus, who according to the myth fell in love with his own image to the point that he melted from the fire of passion burning inside him, was a fairly common theme in the first-century Roman city.

The discovery, announced on Thursday, is in the atrium of a house where, back in November, excavations brought to light another fresco that portrays an erotic scene from the Greek myth of Leda and the Swan.

“The beauty of these rooms has led us to modify the project and continue the excavation,” said the site’s director, Alfonsina Russo.

“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 stabilisation and re-profiling of the excavation fronts, overseen by the Great Pompeii Project.”

The ancient city of Pompeii was destroyed in AD79 by an eruption that killed more than 2,000 people. The ruins have become one of the most visited archaeological sites in the world.

The city, which attracts almost 4 million visitors a year, has come a long way since 2013, when Unesco threatened to place it on its list of world heritage sites in peril unless Italian authorities improved its preservation.

On 16 October, archaeologists discovered an engraving that suggested the eruption occurred in October of AD79, and not August, as had been previously thought.

Surprises unearthed in recent months include the remains of a horse and a home with an elaborate shrine.

Contributor

Lorenzo Tondo in Palermo

The GuardianTramp

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