After a 20-year refurbishment, an ancient Roman house adorned with erotic frescos has now reopened in the city of Pompeii, which was engulfed by volcanic ash during the 79 CE eruption of Mount Vesuvius. The House of the Vettii was unveiled by Gabriel Zuchtriegel, the director of Pompeii archaeological park, on January 10.
The 2nd century BCE home was owned by former slaves Aulus Vettius Restitutus and Aulus Vettius Conviva, who amassed their wealth by selling wine.
A fresco panel at the entrance, for which the house is perhaps most known, depicts the god of fertility Priapus, whose massive phallus is shown weighing on a scale counter-balanced on the opposite side with a loaded money bag. Priapus is a Greek god believed to provide fertility, good fortune, and protection.
In the dining room, dubbed the Hall of Pentheus, another fresco depicts the Greek hero Hercules crushing two snakes as a child—a testament to his early heroic power.
The owners used the frescos in their home to recall Greek mythology as a way to legitimize their new status as Roman elites.
This renovation project is the latest phase in the rehabilitation of Pompeii, which just last year saw the excavation of a 2,000-year-old middle class residence.