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Friday, April 10, 2015

Alexander the Great Confronts Darius III at Issus


This is a tile mosaic of Alexander the Great in battle with Darius III of Persia. Alexander is able to defeat Darius' army and even attempts to capture Darius at the Battle of Issus. The Roman floor mosaic dates from approximately 100 B.C., but it is believed to be a Roman copy of a painting from the Hellenistic period in the third century B.C. It was discovered among the ruins at Pompeii.


The mosaic is made from millions of tiny colored mosaic tiles known as tesserae. Even though this mosaic is damaged, it is easy to make out the two figures. Off to the very left of the mosaic, you can see a portrait of Alexander on horseback participating in battle. Upon Alexander's breast plate is a depiction of Medusa. The tallest figure towards the center of the mosaic is Darius in his chariot wearing his helmet.

It is simply a scene from the middle of the heat of this feisty battle that includes all the details of the armor, the men, and the horses*. This is uncommon for a work of art for a private residence. The patron of this mosaic was probably someone of the upper class living in Pompeii.

*A.P. Art History teacher Dr. Michael Bieze said referring the to horse in the center, "That's the best horse's rear in art history."

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