Imperial Rome   :|:   Document

Boats in the frigidarium in the Villa del Casale

ref. : en.1758.2018 | 21 November 2018 | by Francis Leveque
mosaïque | IVe century AD
Sicile ( Italie )
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This round of boats, marine animals and mythological monsters seems to indicate that here everyone practices according to his convenience. This room is the cold bath, an important piece in the organization of Roman baths. It is the entrance and the exit, the place to orient oneself, meet, discuss, remake the world.

The mosaic comes from the Villa del Casale located near the town of Piazza Armerina, south of Sicily. The construction of this villa began at the end of the third century AD. It has about thirty rooms decorated with 3500 m² of mosaics. Her decors include the famous women in bikinis. Other mosaics show animal transport ships and other fishing scenes, notably in the semicircular atrium. This theme is very present in the villa. Most mosaics date from the mid-4th century.

This mosaic is in the great hall of the frigidarium, an octagonal room with cold baths in the corners and corridors to the hot baths, massage rooms and the house.

Les navires de transport

Four boats with fishing cupids encircle the centre of the room, and in a circle around these are a multitude of sea monsters, Nereids, cupids frolicking in the water and animals of the sea, like fish and dolphins. The scene is reminiscent of the one in the Hall of Arion. There are visible traces of later repairs of some fish and dolphins.

They have the same profile as on most other mosaics in the villa: with a vertical bow above a sharp taillemer, surmounted by a false stolos ending with a volute. The curved stern rises quite high and ends with a button. They do not have a mat.


Bibliography :

  • B. Pace, I mosaici di Piazza Armerina, G. Casini, Rome , 1955
  • H.-I. Marrou , Sur deux mosaïques de la villa romaine de Piazza Armerina, vol. 35, Christiana tempora. Mélanges d'histoire, d'archéologie, d'épigraphie et de patristique , Publications de l'École Française de Rome , 1978
  • A. Carandini, A. Ricci, M. De Vos, Filosofiana. La Villa del Casale di Piazza Armerina. Immagine di un aristocratico romano al tempo di Costantino, S.F. Faccovio, Palerme , 1982
  • R. J. A. Wilson, Piazza Armerina, Granada Verlag, Londres , 1983
  • P. C. Baum-vom Felde, Die geometrischen Mosaiken der Villa bei Piazza Armerina, Amburgo , 2003
  • B. Steger, Recherches sur l’iconographie des mosaïques de Piazza Armernai (thèse), Atelier national de reproduction des thèses, Lille , 2006