Plate XLII - Venus fishing

Venus is represented, in plate XLII, from one of the cubiculi in the house of the Tragic Poet. Some have imagined that Cupid was painted as having caught several fish, but that he had, in the mean time, been caught by the goddess ; though that does not seem exactly to have been the intention of the painter. It has even been pretended that the mountain seen in the distance is Vesuvius ; but the Vesuvius of Pompeian times must have been a flat and very truncated cone, with a wide depression in the centre, almost filled up at present by a new cone, the origin of which can be traced only to the eruption which destroyed Pompeii. It is surprising how little notice of so near a mountain as Vesuvius is to be found in this city. At Capua two curious inscriptions were discovered, which seem to point out the two summits, one being the Monte di Somma of the present day.

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By these it seems proved that the mountain was sacred to Jupiter. A third may be added, which may have reference to Vesuvius, and is from Herculaneum, accompanying the picture of a snake winding round an altar.


The goddess is graceful and natural in the original. The position of the left hand is one which was a great favourite with the ancients, and is often repeated. Her mantle is yellow.

The fantastic marine animals above and below this picture are taken from panels generally black, and forming the lowest ornaments of many of the apartments at Pompeii.