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Mosaics


© J.-F. Peiré
© J.-F. Peiré

Collection of mosaics discovered in the nineteenth century in Saint-Rustice (Haute-Garonne). Fourth or fifth century.
Inv.  Ra20c – Ra 20b – D.70.1.1.

This collection of mosaics comes from a Roman villa, an estate that included a sumptuous residential area.
The only known part of the estate is the room which housed this ornamental tiling in the fourth or fifth century. The room, 13 meters long and three meters wide, was supplemented with six apses. It is thought to have been a public bath’s changing room, the apodyterium.
All of the marine creatures depicted belong to the universe of the god Oceanus. The triton Nymphogenus blows in a long shell of which only the mouthpiece remains. The tritons were the masculine equivalents of mermaids. They made up the retinue escorting Neptune, the god of the sea.


© J.-F. Peiré
© J.-F. Peiré
Another fragment represents a nymph under which one can read the name “Dotô,” but this name was placed here during a restoration of the mosaic and is without a doubt not the nymph’s name. Instead, it is a representation of “Ino” whose husband was turned mad by the goddess Hera. To escape him, Ino threw herself into the sea where she joined the Nereids and was deified. She then took the name Leucothea.

© J.-F. Peiré
© J.-F. Peiré
The Nereid Thetis, daughter of Nereus and mother of Achilles, is accompanied by a Triton playing the pan flute.

© J.-F. Peiré
© J.-F. Peiré
The god Oceanus’s head measures more than two meters.
In Greek mythology, Oceanus was the liquid element from which came all aquatic forms: rivers, streams, springs, and seas.
The inscriptions designating the divinities are all written in Greek instead of Latin which was rare in Gaul.
Is this a reflection of the attachment to the Greek culture’s erudition or a slightly ostentatious and artificial emphasis on the passion for this culture at the end of Antiquity?
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