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Regio IV - Insula V - Taberne dei Pescivendoli (IV,V,1)

The Shops of the Fishmongers were installed on the Decumanus Maximus, in the north porticus of the Macellum (IV,V,2). They are an addition from the first half of the third century AD (opus vittatum). They are situated on one of Ostia's busiest intersections, the Bivio del Castrum. Across the street are more fish shops, in the House of the Harbour Mosaic (I,XIV,2). The building was excavated in the late 1920's and in 1938.

There are two shops, to the west and east of the entrance corridor of the Macellum. In the centre of both rooms is a marble table, and against the back wall a fish-basin revetted with marble, supporting small columns. In the eastern shop is a black-and-white mosaic, with marine motifs. We see a triton, and a dolphin with an octopus in its beak. Above and below the dolphin is the text:


("Envious one, I tread on you"). It is an apotropaic text, that according to Becatti refers to the dolphin, who scares away the fish. Dunbabin suggests, that it is rather a reference to the octopus, an animal that is traditionally hostile to man, contrary to the dolphin. Her view seems to be supported by a mosaic in other fish shops, the Caseggiato dell'Invidioso (V,V,1). Here we read INBIDIOSUS, but a dolphin has not been preserved.

Plan of the market and shops.
After SO I.


The eastern shop, seen from the north-west (from the Decumanus).
Photograph: Bill Storage.

The eastern shop, seen from the north-east. To the left is a triton.
Photograph: Bill Storage.

The eastern shop, seen from the north-west. To the right are the dolphin and text.
Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.

Detail of the text, dolphin and octopus.
Photograph: Eric Taylor.

The western shop, seen from the north-east.
Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.

[jthb - 12-Nov-2005]