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Orpheus Mosaic

UnknownLate 2nd century AD

Pergamonmuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Pergamonmuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

This mosaic floor comes from the triclinium (dining room) of a Roman private house in Miletus, in Asia Minor. The square main picture is surrounded on three sides by outer fields decorated in simple geometrical patterns. Originally a little raised, these would have supported the dining couches. In the central field a fox and raven are listening to the mythical Orpheus, their heads turned attentively towards the singer, who is represented frontally, sitting on a rock. Other animals, soothed by the magical effect of the music, are represented in square and rectangular fields grouped around the central image.
In deliberate contrast with this state of peace between wild and domesticated animals, the foremost field of the mosaic depicts hunting scenes, in which winged cupids armed with spears pursue wild animals which in turn chase their own prey.
Roman art has many representations of Orpheus playing his lyre amid animals enchanted by his skill. This was due not only to the spread of the Orphic mysteries and the general popularity of the Orpheus myth, but also to the fact that the subject provided the opportunity for the skilful representation of a great number of different animals.

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  • Title: Orpheus Mosaic
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: Late 2nd century AD
  • Location: Miletus, Turkey
  • Physical Dimensions: w6.3 x h7.8 cm
  • Type: Mosaic
  • Medium: Stone and glass
  • Inv. no.: Mos. 72
  • ISIL no.: DE-MUS-814319
  • External link: Pergamonmuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Collection: Antikensammlung, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin


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