Cubicle of Choruses and Actors
Probably the bedroom of the owner of the villa
The Cubicle of Choruses and Actors is a room in the larger private apartment in the Villa Romana del Casale. It is located adjacent to the Hall of Arion, with entrance from the Vestibule of the Small Circus.
The room is a cubiculum, a bedroom. It is approx. 4×6m with a narrower semicircular apse that is separated from the room by two columns.
The mosaic in the main room shows actors and musicians engaged in artistic competitions. The mosaic is articulated in three registers. In the upper register there are four musicians, one with a cithara mounted on a table, one with a kind of organ carried on the head, one playing a double flute and one with a tibicine, another kind of flute. To the left a man is standing, dressed in a toga over a tunic, with his right arm raised and a palm leaf in the left hand. He might be the arbiter ready to give the sign to start the competition. This part of the mosaic is a bit damaged.
Below is a series of persons that could be comic actors or musicians. This part is very damaged. To the left two women are clearly visible and to the right a man in tights and tunic holding a crooked stick behind his head with both hands. In the centre the mosaic is almost totally destroyed, but two persons are recognisable and what appears to be one or two large cymbals, one of which has small circles attached with the Greek letters Α, Β, Γ, Δ and Ε denoting musical tones.
The last register is also severely damaged. To the left there are fragments of two persons and what might be the foot of a mounted cymbal. In the middle another mounted cymbal can be seen, with three of probably five circles attached, carrying the Greek letters Γ, Δ and Ε. Further right the mosaic is better preserved, and here two persons are depicted. One is playing a chitara and is dressed in a full length, long sleeve tunic with horizontal bands. The other is apparently a poet reciting. He is dressed in a long wide tunic with two clavi, vertical stripes,
The apse has a mosaic reminiscent of the mosaic in the alcove of the Cubicle of Children Hunting. It shows two women weaving crowns of roses. They are sitting on woven baskets on each side of a tree to which the half finished crowns are attached. At the feet of the women baskets with more roses are ready to be used. Scattered around the scene are branches with red roses. In the middle of the tree hangs a large ivy leaf, thus repeating one of the recurring themes of the mosaics in the villa.
The threshold to the apse has mosaic of a table with what could be interpreted as the prices for the winner of the competition of the musicians and actors of the main room. It is very similar to the price table in the Vestibule of Eros and Pan. On the table stands two cylindrical objects, probably a kind of elaborate headdress. They are decorated with bands and colours, and two palm leaves are inserted into each object. On top there is also a crown of roses much like the one being woven in the scene above. In two corners of the table are two sacks of money with the amount written on them: 12.000 denarii in each.
There are remains of plaster and paintings on the walls, and some fragments of the marble socle is still in place.
This room and the Cubicle of Children Hunting are the largest and the most sumptuous cubicles in the villa. Together with the central Hall of Arion and the common Atrium of the Fishing Cupids these rooms probably constitute the private apartment of the owner of the villa and his spouse. Comparing the two cubicles, this bedroom is distinguished by the ivy leaf in the apse. The ivy leaf is recurring so often in the villa that it must have some relation to the dominus, and the location here is just where the bed would have been. It is therefore very likely the bedroom of the owner.
The mosaic in the main room is a tribute to poetry and music, just as the mosaic in the Hall of Arion. It is another indication that the owner of the villa was a great lover of music and poetry.
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