Saturday, June 11, 2005
Roman mosaic found in Turkey telling story of the birth of the Minotaur and Daedalus' design of the labyrinth. The interesting story of this mosaic is that NOVA writes it up with an emphasis on Daedalus and Icarus, even to the title of this mosaic. Here's NOVA's summary.
"When King Minos of Crete [center] decided to keep alive a magnificent bull that Poseidon had given him for sacrifice, the sea god punished him by having Minos's wife Pasiphae (seated at left in the mosaic) fall in love with the bull. To satisfy her desire, the architect Daedalus and his son Icarus (second from right and far right, respectively) built her a hollow cow in which she could hide and mate with the bull. Their coupling produced the half-man, half-bull Minotaur, which was shut away in the maze-like Labyrinth (upper right)."
The female figure between King Minos and Pasiphae remains a mystery. The central figure remains King Minos, linked to his wife on the left, yet reaching out to Daedalus on the right. Pasiphae is shown seated, looking somewhat self-satisfied, self-absorbed. Researchers speculate that the laybrinth, shown on the far right as a separate building, is actually the entire palace complex at Minos on Knossos for its hundreds of connecting rooms and hallways. What is the moral of this story: To disobey the gods brings horrific retribution? That our desires or curiosity cannot always be satisfied? That we cannot always confront what we create -- with human technology? How interesting that this particular scene, massive in size, was chosen for the floor of this Roman villa in Turkey. Which characters shown drawn your sympathy? I'm curious about that woman in the middle. Is she a servant? A messenger? A goddess herself? Is she perhaps the storyteller herself (see the outstretched hand), or is she the mistress of the house in which this mosaic was found?
Source of story and mosaic: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/zeugma/mosa_05.html#fea_top