On the Specificities of the Arion Mosaic in the Villa del Casale (Piazza Armerina): Contribution to the Study of Arion Representations in Ancient Art


  • Anđela Gavrilović Institute of Art History, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade




Villa Romana del Casale, mosaic, Arion, dolphin, meaning


The paper deals with the representation of Arion on the monumental floor mosaic in one of the most representative rooms of the Roman Villa del Casale in Sicily, dating from the beginning of the 4th century (fig. 1, 2). It is special in many respects. It is the most monumental and magnificent representation of Arion in ancient art. Arion is depicted in the central part of а complex mosaic consisting of many scenes, figures and motifs. He is sitting on a dolphin and playing music on his instrument. The dolphin motif in this scene is unique and not examined in the literature, leaving much room for research. To our knowledge, it is a unique example of a dolphin ridden by Arion, shown hunting its prey, which is certainly not a coincidence or a descriptive detail of the artist, but a reflection of his knowledge and the clear intention of the patrons of the mosaic. On the contrary, this detail subtly explains the meaning of the entire mosaic illustrating the story of Arion and the reasons for his appearance. It suggests that the owners of the villa either belonged to the highest Roman aristocracy of their time, or perhaps were even related to the imperial family. By examining the history of the specific dolphin motif it is shown that this detail bears  the symbolism of victory, thus, corresponding to the meaning of the Arion mosaic and other mosaics in Villa del Casale.


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How to Cite

Gavrilović, Anđela. 2024. “On the Specificities of the Arion Mosaic in the Villa Del Casale (Piazza Armerina): Contribution to the Study of Arion Representations in Ancient Art”. Etnoantropološki Problemi Issues in Ethnology and Anthropology 18 (4):1275–1296. https://doi.org/10.21301/eap.v18i4.11.



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