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Paphos Mosaics 9 – Theseus and the Minotaur

August 10, 2013


This is one of my favourite mosaics, it is the representation of the myth of Theseus and his battle with the Minotaur.

Theseus is either the son of King Aegeus of Athens or the God Poseidon as Aethra slept with both of them on the same night. Aethra believes Aegeus is Theseus’ father.
When Theseus comes of age Aethra challenges him to lift a giant boulder and reclaim what is underneath. Theseus finally succeeds and finds a sword and some other items; Aethra then reveals his true identity and sends him to Athens. Theseus, following an attempt on his life by Medea reveals himself to be Aegues’ son, and subsequently learns of the yearly demand of seven men and seven women as tribute from King Minos of Crete. Theseus declares that he will be one of the men and goes forth to face Minos and the Minotaur. Upon his arrival in Crete Theseus offers to be sacrificed to the Minotaur first. Ariadne, the daughter of Minos, impressed by Theseus’ bravery falls in love with him and provides a weapon and ball of thread to aid his escape from the labyrinth. The mosaic depicts the moment before Theseus’ victory, who is pictured grasping one of the Minotaur’s horns about to strike the killing blow with his club.

The mosaic is quite beautiful and intricate. The pattern around the central picture depicts the labyrinth, with the chain representing Ariadne’s thread. Within the central picture there is a man on the left who is the god of the labyrinth. In the top left Ariadne can be seen and on the right the personification of Crete.

There is something strange about the representation of Theseus. In mosaics where there is action such as the conquest of a foe the face contains passion but in this representation Theseus appears somewhat nonchalant. The eyes are not focused on his quarrel but instead appear to be looking into the distance. It is possible that the artist is suggesting that as Theseus is about to succeed he can look to the future, it is difficult to say. Despite this the action and detail of the mosaic make it one of the most inspiring works on the site.


From → Art

  1. Pete Laberge permalink

    We theoretically should be able to make such wonderful works of art today. I wonder why we so rarely do, even in public buildings? Thanks for sharing.
    Let me share something in return :

    • Hello Pete

      Absolutely love the video, so much so that I shared it on Facebook and Twitter (with due credit to yourself for posting it here). Thank you for sharing this with me.



  2. Pete Laberge permalink

    David, sir:
    Thank you so much for your kind reply/ I am glad you liked the video.
    There are several other great videos here, below. Vidoes on Rome, Caesar, Civilization.
    And their Facebook page is here:
    They tweet, occasionally, here;
    And there are some songs, not yet video-graphed, on SoundCloud:

    • Thank you for the links really appreciated, will add them to twitter as well.



Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Paphos Mosaics 12 – Achilles First Bath | David Allsop Classics
  2. The Paphos Mosaic Series | David Allsop Classics

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