As in most Roman houses of the time, the house of the Tragic Poet is divided into two main areas, one public and one private. The front of the house, facing south, constitutes the public area. It has a central access and two large spaces located on both sides of it, with open walls facing the street (see map). These rooms would be destined to the commercial activity of the inhabitants of the house (tabernae), or less probably to the lodging of the servants.

Through the main entrance there is access to a narrow corridor or lobby, at the end of which the atrium is located, the most decorated room in the entire domus. In this open courtyard is located the impluvium, a rectangular pond recessed in the ground under an open roof or compluvium, whose function was to collect rainwater to be used by the members of the house. In the northern part of the impluvium there was a source to extract water from the pond. On the opposite side of the atrium is the tablinum, a second open public room.


From these main areas are distributed other smaller and private rooms, which constitute the second area of the house. A series of cubicles or bedrooms are arranged along the west wall of the house. On the opposite side of the atrium there is a small changing room, another cubiculum, a wing or dining room, and an oecus or small dining room. The north face of the tablinum opens to a large peristyle or open garden. Between the oecus and the tablinum there is a fauces or corridor, which also gives access to the peristyle. To the right of the landscaped patio is the most important room of the house, which is believed to be used as a dining room. Next to this main room there is a small kitchen area. To the left of the peristyle are located another cubicle and a service door opens onto a side street, the Vicolo della Fullonica. Finally, in the northwest corner of the garden, a small lararium or sanctuary was built to worship the hearths or family gods. To the left of the atrium there is a room with a landing and stairs. Although the documentation and the experts have confirmed with certainty the existence of a superior plant in the house of the Tragic Poet, little is known about its concrete design, since it was probably destroyed in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.

House of the Tragic Poet