Mosaic with the Removal of Briseis

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Mosaic with the Removal of Briseis, Roman, A.D. 100 – 200, stone and glass

About to lose possession of the concubine Briseis to Agamemnon, Achilles sits morosely, leaning his head on his hand. This contest between two great Greek warriors set in motion the rest of Homer’s epic poem, the Iliad. Achilles’ companion Patrokles is on the far left, and an elderly bearded man, probably Phoenix, stands beside him in the center of this fragmentary Roman mosaic. Only Briseis’s face remains, just to the right of Phoenix; the rest of her body has been largely destroyed. At the right, partially preserved, are the two heralds who will take the slave girl to Agamemnon.

The Romans made mosaics from tesserae, tiny cubes of stone or occasionally other materials, set into a bed of mortar. They used mosaics to cover the floors in wealthy private homes and public buildings. Roman mosaics show strong regional differences; this example appears to have originated in the eastern Mediterranean in the 100s A.D. Mosaics in the formerly Greek areas of the eastern Mediterranean often depicted complex mythological themes such as this one.

Source : The J. Paul Getty Museum

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