Lecture 3

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Classics 456  Dr. Soren

Roman Mosaics and Painting


              Lecture 3: The Birth of a Tessera


A. Pebble Mosaics Continue to Thrive-- Paphos, Cyprus


B. The Development of Mosaic Art in Punic Tunisia

   l. Fourth century B.C. development

   2. Punic mosaics

   3. Diffusion to the west

   4. Carthage- Byrsa Hill Houses (Lancel)

   5. Kerkouane


C. Other Areas in Greece with Pebble Mosaics

   1. Temple of Zeus at Olympia- perhaps installed ca. 325 B.C.

   2. Triton scene In Sparta- cut cubes for eyes, child on tail, rudder

                   Date unfixed- could be 3rd century B.C. or later


D. Hieron II of Syracuse, Sicily (275-215 B.C.)

   l. State ship- tradition of ruler's pleasure craft

   2. Recorded by Athenaeus of Naukratis

      a. Lived in Alexandria 170-23- A.D. and later Rome

      b. Deipnosophistae- 15 books, extracts 1500 works

   3. Cabin floor-tablets of every kind of stone

   4. Iliad scenes- 300 laber one year, copy painter Theron of Samos   

   5. Forerunner of Lake Nemi Ships


E. Demetrius of Phaleron- ruler of Athens 317 B.C.

   l. Extremely refined rhetor, statesman, scholar

   2. Athenaeus records that Douris of Samos saw a floral mosaic in the men's quarters of his home


F. Galen- Pergamene and Roman second century A.D. physician

          Recorded that the Cynic Diogenes used mosaics to

          teach before 324 B.C. in Corinth and these illustrated



G. House of the Mosaics at Eretria in Euboea Area of Greece ca. 375 B.C.

   l.  Early History- 490 B.C. Persian invasion, 450-Athenian Control

                             411- the Euboean Revolt

                             Decline in the Roman Period

   2. Nereid brings the armor of Achilles to Patroclus vs. Hector from Thetis

   3. One-eyed Arisphaspeans vs. Griffins and their gold- Herodotos


          The Arimaspi were a legendary people of northern Scythia who lived in the foothills of the Riphean Mountains, variously identified with the Ural Mountains or the Carpathians.[ All tales of their struggles with the gold-guarding griffins in the Hyperborean lands near the cave of Boreas, the North Wind (Geskleithron), had their origin in a lost work by Aristeas, reported in Herodotus.


   4. Chlamys

   5. Pelta-shaped Thracian Shields

   6. Mackhaira or Short Sword


Makhaira (Greek: μάχαιρα (mákhaira, plural mákhairai), also transliterated machaira or machaera; a Greek word, related to μάχη (mákhē) "a battle", μάχεσθαι (mákhesthai) "to fight) is a term used by modern scholars to describe a type of ancient bladed weapon, generally a large knife or sword with a single cutting edge.


   7. Phrygian cap

   8. Lions attack horses—Theme is FANTASTIC CREATURES AND MONSTERS


H. Delos- many floors of 200-150 B.C. in theater-quarter houses

   l. True mosaics- black backgrounds set in a mortar

   2. City free from Athens 315 B.C. and thrives to 166 when

      Romans punish it for siding with Perseus vs. Romans and it

      is returned to Athens and people leave

   3. Mosaic zenith- 20 colors, onyx, agate, smalti

   4. Smalti- sand and mineral oxides, red and green (Cu oxide) coloring agents

      a. Low melting point needed- flux of alkalines (soda or potash), silica, CaCO3

      b. Opacifyers – zinc oxide

   5. Marcel Bulard and Joseph Chamonard publish these 1904 Fouilles de Delos

   6. The House of the Masks- the famous Indian Dionysus

      a. Thyrsus

      b. Androgyny

      c. Nonnus of Panopolis (Upper Egypt) ca. 400 CE and the Dionysiaca (48 books)


Nonnus' principal work is the Dionysiaca, an epic in 48 books, the longest surviving poem from antiquity at 20,426 lines, composed in Homeric dialect and dactylic hexameters, the main subject of which is the life of Dionysus, his expedition to India, and his triumphant return to the west. The poem is thought to have been written in the early 5th century.


      d. Krokotos (feminine robe cited by Aristophanes, Frogs 46, Nonnus 14.16)- yellow  painted himation around the legs


      e. cothurna- feminine soft sole buskins