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Collezione Ercolano
The House of the Telephus Relief

Herculaneum was located on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius and was buried by 30 meters of lava, ash, and mud in the eruption of AD 79. Excavations began in the 1700s and are still ongoing. The carbonization process has allowed for the discovery of intact structures of houses and objects, offering a valuable testimony of daily life in ancient Rome.

This house, perhaps a holiday home, belonging to the same owner as the House of the Gems, Marco Nonio Balbo, is the second largest in Herculaneum and has a private access to the Suburban Baths.

It has a typical Hellenistic structure with a red stucco colonnade and yellow frescoed walls. Among the columns, eight oscilla were found, marble disks with Dionysian scenes. Inside the diaeta (a private room for receiving friends or conversing), a high-relief with the myth of Telephus was found. It contains several mosaics and statues of the Neo-Attic school. The diaeta and oecus are clad in marble and have a view of the sea.

Telephus, son of Hercules and King of Mysia, fought against Achilles who wounded him in the thigh. The myth says that Telephus took Agamemnon’s young son Orestes hostage and threatened Achilles that he would not return him unless he himself cured the ugly wound. The alto-relief shows Achilles healing the wound of Telephus.

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