Cubicle of Children Hunting
The bedroom of the lady of the house
The Cubicle of Children Hunting is a part of the larger private apartment of the Villa Romana del Casale. It is located between the Great Basilica, Hall of Arion and Vestibule of Eros and Pan with entrance from the last.
The room is a cubiculum, i.e., a bedroom. It is a rectangular room, circa 4×6m, with a slightly narrower alcove at the end. The alcove was separated from the room by two columns of which nothing remain.
The mosaic in the central part of the cubicle shows scenes of children hunting. It is divided in three registers, of which the lower is somewhat larger than the others.
There are three children in the upper register, all wearing coloured, embroidered, full sleeve tunics. In the centre a boy is chasing a hare towards a boy to the left, who is thrusting his venabulum, spear, in the breast of the hare so the blood is flowing heavily from the wound. To the right a boy has caught a duck with a lasso and the bird is flapping its wings violently in an attempt to evade capture.
The centre register also depicts three children, this time in less heroic poses. They are dressed as in the upper register. To the left a boy has fallen to the ground. An animal, maybe a rat, is biting him in the leg and he is bleeding a lot. In the centre another boy is looking on in horror, raising his arms to the sky in a cry for help. To the right another boy is on his knees while a cock is attacking him with its beak and spurs.
The lower, taller register shows combat scenes. To in the upper centre a boy is confronting a huge bird, protecting himself with a small square shield. Further left a boy is fighting a peacock with a stick, and to the right a boy is killing an attacking goat with a spear.
All the scenes are set on a background of green branches with leaves and an abundance of fruits and flowers.
These hunting scenes has a certain affinity with the hunting scenes found the in Room of the Little Hunt. Many of the details and motifs are the same, only they have been moved from an adult context to the world of children. It is a reduction to infancy of the same hunting motif. A similar reductio ad infantiam can be found in the Vestibule of the Small Circus.
There are some damages to the lower register, and the lower right corner of the mosaic is completely lost.
In the alcove the motif is more peaceful. The two registers depict scenes of flower gathering and weaving wreath of flowers. In the upper register two women are picking red flowers from the surrounding bushes and trees, and in the lower a woman, a coronaria, is making garlands of flowers she has in a huge basket, while another woman is arriving with two new baskets full of flowers. The wreaths already made are hanging from a tree in the centre. The women are dressed in foot long tunics with wide sleeves. This scene is very similar to the one in the apse of the Cubicle of Choruses and Actors.
On the threshold between the alcove and the main room is a scene with a boy carrying two large baskets full of flowers on a long stick over his neck.
The border around the entire mosaic is a geometric pattern of squares.
There are fragments of wall paintings in the room. Octagonal fields formed by two intertwined squares with human figures inside alternate with rhombs with flower motifs. Separating them are narrow rectangles with flowers.
Some parts of the walls are covered with plaster used to fixate marbles slabs. This appears to have be made after the wall paintings.
It is certain this is a cubiculum, but it is not clear of whom. It has been suggested that it was for the children of the owner due to the abundance of children in the mosaic, but if the Cubicle of Choruses and Actors was the bedroom of the lord of the villa, this room was probably the cubiculum of the domina, the lady of the house. After all, separate bedrooms was very common among the wealthy romans.
Prints of the photographs are available — read more here.
The pictures above are taken in the following locations:
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