Achilles mosaics in England
Date: Fourth century
Location or Findspot (Modern-Day Country): England
Dimensions: 11 × 7 m
Description: A villa discovered in England in 2020 contains exceptional late Roman mosaics in one of its largest rooms, originally used for entertaining or dining. Three rectangular panels depict scenes from the end of Homer’s Iliad. The panels show, from the bottom up, the Greek hero Achilles’s duel with Hector, the prince of Troy; Achilles dragging Hector’s body around the walls of Troy while his father, King Priam, pleads for the return of the body (Priam stands at the far right); and the return of the body to Priam in exchange for Hector’s weight in gold (the man in the center carries a scale; in the pans are the body and the pile of gold). These episodes were still well known to some from oral retellings of the ancient literary text, but they were rarely represented in medieval art and are unique in Britain. With this unusual iconographic choice, the patron of the villa showed off his classical education to his guests.
Relevant Textbook Chapter(s): 1
Repository and Online Resources: • Read more about the mosaics and the villa here (includes two short videos). • Read about the villa on the Historic England website.
Image Credits: ULAS (University of Leicester Archaeological Services); used by permission
Tags: Late Antique , Polytheist, Roman, Western European, Artistic production, Connections to the past, Status and identity, Animals, War