Thursday, October 25, 2007

Mosaics in Ravenna Still Dazzle


I was searching for a picture of the Amazon Warrior sculpture that was recently found in Herculaneum and stumbled across this blog about Mosaic Art and these wonderful pictures of the tomb of Galla Placidia, the powerful half-sister of Honorius and wife of Emperor Constantius III. I had heard that the mosaics in Ravenna are particularly spectacular and if these are any indication, they certainly are!

"Galla Placidia was the daughter of Roman Emperor Theodosius I (379-395) and his second wife, Galla, the daughter of Valentinian I. She was the half-sister of the young Roman emperors Honorius (393-423) and Arcadius (383-408), the aunt of Theodosius II, the wife of Athaulf, King of the Goths, and then of Flavius Constantius (421) (who was promoted to co-emperor with Honorius shortly before his death), and the mother of Valentinian III.

When, under the leadership of Alaric, the Goths sacked Rome in August 410, they took Galla Placidia with them to Gaul. After the death of Alaric, Athaulf became the king. Galla Placidia married him in Narbo in January 414 -- against the wishes of her half-brother Honorius, and had a son named Theodosius who died soon thereafter. Following the death of Athaulf in 414, the Goths returned Galla Placidia to the Romans who wanted her to marry Flavius Constantius, who had succeeded Stilicho to power. Reluctantly, Galla Placidia did so and produced two children, Justa Grata Honoria and Valentinian. When, on February 8, 421, Constantius was made co-emperor (Constantius III) in the west by Honorius, Galla Placidia was named Augusta. Constantius died on September 2, 421. Galla Placidia and her childless half-brother Honorius became very close for a while, but then they quarreled. Galla Placidia fled with her children to Constantinople in 423 to escape a charge of aiding her brother's enemies. Although earlier Theodosius hadn't recognized the imperial elevation of Constantius and therefore, the status of his aunt as Augusta, he welcomed her, and soon recognized both her status and the legitimacy of her son as heir. Honorius died soon after, on August 27 of the same year. A usurper John assumed the throne in Ravenna. Theodosius set out to win the throne back for his family. When the imperial party reached Thessalonica the young Valentinian was made Caesar. Placidia was regent for her young son for the next 12 years. She had legislation passed in her son's name (according to Oost), stating that the emperor was subject to the laws of the land, as opposed to the situation in the east where the emperor was above the law. Galla Placidia was also involved in the power play between Felix, Boniface, and Aetius, who has been called the last of the Romans. Earlier, Placidia is thought to have been involved in the conspiracy against the Vandal Stilicho and the subsequent execution of Serena, Stilicho's wife and Galla Placidia's cousin." - About Ancient History

Image by designucdavic

1 comment:

Eric said...

What a wonderfully informative blog. I was in Ravenna last year in this very spot and the mosaics are amazing. Overhead are the typical early Christian Eagle, Ox, Man, and Lion with the alpha omega sign. Also, there were lots of intricately crafted star patterns.

Mosaics are a hobby for me, I made a marble copy 4'x4' of one from the house of the trident I saw one time on Delos (6600 pieces hand cut, whew).

I want to try to copy some Roman lime fresco painting after seeing the Stabiae exhibit this year in the US. Could anyone here recommend a good book on that?

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