House of the Menander
Brought back to light between 1926 and 1932, the House of the Menander is named after the portrait of the Greek dramatist Menander found on one of the walls of the house. With a surface area of 1,830 m², the result of a long series of changes from the 3rd century BC to time of the eruption, it is one of the city's richest houses. Its owner must have been an aristocrat involved in politics. The wall and floor decorations speak volumes about the owner's taste and lifestyle, but they also tell us about the art of the painters and mosaicists active in Pompeii in the years just before the eruption in 79 AD.
The mosaic depicting a Nilotic scene refers to the fabulous world of the pygmies, a theme that was especially widespread in the Pompeiian figurative repertory. Here, the pygmies appear to be deformed, grotesque, short-legged with prominent buttocks and enlarged heads, and of different ages. They can be seen navigating on small boats along the Nile, amidst animals and plants, situated not far from the banks of the river. The theme chosen - expressed with a sense of irony in this case - harks back to a cycle of representation directly inspired by the Egyptian world that would be very popular in Pompeii, especially after the Roman conquest of Egypt in 30 BC.