Corinthian columns were a favorite element of Roman architecture. These capitals are decorated with acanthus leaves at the bottom, a central design of flowering vines in a “lyre motif,” and volutes containing rosettes with acanthus leaves at all four corners. These Corinthian capitals originally crowned the colonnade of portico 60, though by the time Mount Vesuvius erupted the columns had been removed and the capitals were in storage.
The Gardens of Villa A
Whether visitors approached Villa A by land from the north or east or from the sea to the south they would have seen gardens bordered by colonnaded porticoes and lavishly adorned with a variety of sculptures, plants, and trees. The north and east gardens of Villa A also had decorative fountains with running water, a prominent sign of wealth.
The two centaurs displayed here were part of a larger group of garden sculptures that belonged to an ornate fountain. We do not know where the fountain originally was. It might have been in an interior garden, viridarium 20, on the central axis of the villa. When the large north garden was excavated, however, the bases for three centaurs were found, two on one side of the central path and one on the other side. In this position, the centaurs were not connected to the villa’s water system, perhaps because a major earthquake in AD 62 severely damaged the aqueduct that supplied the villas and towns around Mount Vesuvius.