Photo courtesy of the Department of Art and Archaeology, Princeton University
Scenes from Greek mythology crowd this 350-square-foot mosaic floor of Antioch’s second-century C.E. House of the Atrium. The mosaic’s lower register depicts Herakles losing a drinking match with the god Dionysus (see detail). The central panel shows the Judgment of Paris, in which the Trojan king Priam’s son Paris judges a beauty contest between the Greek goddesses Athena, Aphrodite and Hera—and unwittingly sets in motion events that culminate in the Trojan War. The badly damaged upper register shows the goddess Aphrodite warning her lover Adonis not to embark on a fatal hunting expedition. Covering the floor of the House of the Atrium’s dining hall, the mosaic probably stimulated after-dinner conversation. It’s theme: Only fools tangle with the gods.