title page

meet Pyrrha

mosaic making

Roman gardening

Bignor villa

Roman tombstones

Roman inscriptions

Latin poetry

Latin language

Spoken Latin

Harry Potter Latin Quiz

Classical Face Quiz

links to other sites

[the real Medusa!]

more mosaics at Bignor

[Ganymede mosaic] This impressive mosaic was the centrepiece of a dining room, or triclinium. It shows the young Trojan prince Ganymede being abducted by the god Jupiter to be his cupbearer on Mount Olympus. Jupiter has disguised himself as a large eagle.
Notice the 'Phrygian cap' worn by Ganymede - a sign that he came from the East.

[floor with hole in it!]

Here you can get some idea of the construction of the central heating system under another mosaic floor, although it is a pity we have lost so much of the mosaic.

[Venus mosaic]
Recognised as one of the finest mosaics in Britain, this may represent Venus, the goddess of love, as the head is surrounded by a blue nimbus. Perhaps her features were based on the lady of the house?

She has long-tailed birds to either side and glass tesserae are used for the green foliage. The mischievous god of Love, Cupid, was her son, and the panel below has a frieze of cupids dressed as gladiators.

[cupid gladiators]
The detail in this panel is incredible, with tiny tesserae.

It is difficult to understand how the Romans could think that pictures showing the training of gladiators were suitable decoration for their living rooms! Here we see a gladiator being given his shield and helmet, then a 'retiarius' with his net and trident being led by the trainer dressed in white. There is a wounded 'retiarius' on the ground in front of a ring set in stone, no doubt used to chain up victims or reluctant gladiators.

(When I visited the museum at Vindolanda, near Hadrian's Wall, I saw a wonderful fragment of a glass beaker which had beautiful pictures of gladiators painted onto it. I was not allowed to photograph it, but you can see a trainer, a 'secutor' (armed with sword and shield) and part of a 'retiarius' : the artist used white, black, grey, blue, yellow and flesh colours).


A personification of Winter - not looking very happy!

Many mosaic floors were decorated with a representation of one of the four Seasons at each corner, but the others have not survived here.


Geometric patterns were also a great favourite of the Roman mosaicists. Notice the three-dimensional effect creating the illusion of cubes.

                               previous page

opening times and special events at Bignor villa