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Paphos Mosacis 13 – Poseidon and Amphitrite

September 7, 2013

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This mosaic would have been a highly detailed and beautiful representation of Poseidon, god of the sea, with his wife Amphitrite, daughter of Oceanus. Unfortunately it is severely damaged and beyond restoration. The Department of Antiquities have closed off the area to visitor access in order to preserve what remains of the mosaic. The picture had to be taken at a distance and unfortunately the quality is somewhat impaired.

It is possible to identify the couple as the remains of Poseidon’s trident can be seen in the top left hand corner. Above Poseidon’s head is a Blue Nimbus signifying his divinity; similar to the Christian halo representations in paintings and stained glass. Though little remains of Poseidon’s body it is possible to make out his heroic form; muscular arms, shoulders and beard. I would suggest, given Poseidon’s attributes and Amphitrite’s lineage, that in this mosaic the couple would have been depicted riding a sea creature through Poseidon’s kingdom.

It is difficult to consider Amphitrite’s representation as very little remains. The left arm is raised in a gesture and is adorned with what appears to be gold bracelets. The hair is brown, approximately shoulder length and she appears to be facing Poseidon.

Though the piece is severely damaged it is possible to get a sense of the scene; though some speculation is required. There appears to be no space within the centre of the mosaic suggesting that Poseidon is holding Amphitrite close. It is likely that the artist intended this as an intimate representation of the couple; reinforced by the presence of the Erotes. I consider that this mosaic either represents the couple shortly after their marriage or Poseidon presenting Amphitrite to his kingdom after she finally secumbed to his advances.

I wish the mosaic were in better condition both artistically and archaeologically. There are clearly key details missing that could help in assessing the representation of Poseidon and Amphitrite in this work. However, even in this condition it is possible to appreciate the quality of the artists work and attention to detail.

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