This is my second post on the Roman mosaics of the Villa Romana del Casale in Sicily – the first can be found here.
Probably the most famous mosaic in the villa is that of the so-called ‘bikini girls’, a group of eight girls engaged in various types of sporting activity, apparently wearing bikinis. This was though apparently standard wear for girls taking part in athletics contests. It’s unusual in its subject matter and is full of life and movement. It’s quite a contrast with the formality of many of the other mosaics in the villa.
The portion of geometric patterned mosaic in the top left hand corner of the room shows that at some later date the owners decided to cover over the mosaic of the girls. In other parts of the villa some of the mosaics were also later covered with a layer of concrete. Perhaps tastes change or, in a Christian era, the mosaic was seen to be too immodest.
The girl in the middle of the bottom row wears a laurel crown and holds a palm frond, clearly she is being crowned the victor in these games.
One of the rooms has a depiction of children fishing from boats:
Another room has a whole mosaic dedicated to the watery theme based around Poseidon
At the centre of the villa is the basilica, an audience room, where the Master of the estate would have received visitors, probably seated on a throne under the apse. Today all that is left is the floor and part of the walls.
As you can see in the picture below the floor is very uneven in places. This seems odd because none of the other floors in the villa show anything like the buckling that is evident here. Originally the floor and the walls were covered with polished marbles from all over the Roman Empire in the Mediterranean, including Egypt, Greece, Asia Minor and Syria. Evidence once again of the power and wealth of the original builders and owners of the villa.
One room has a mosaic depicting Ulysses giving a draft of wine to the Cyclops:
In the Master or Mistress’s private rooms there are some interesting portraits:
An image in a bedroom with a bit of seaside postcard erotica:
A dining room with depictions of fruit:
Finally a couple of mosaics of children, one of them playing games
and one of them engaged in a chariot race in a hippodrome:
Apart from wealth, the original owner must have had access to very skilled craftsmen to undertake such extensive mosaic work to such a high standard. It is now believed that many of the craftsmen came from parts of the Roman Empire in Africa.