The Alexander Mosaic is a Roman floor mosaic originally from the House of the Faun in Pompeii that dates from circa 100BC. It depicts a battle between the armies of Alexander the Great and Darius III of Persia and measures 2. 72 by 5. 13 metres. The mosaic is believed to be a copy of an early 3rd-century BC Hellenistic painting.
About Alexander Mosaic in brief
The Alexander Mosaic is a Roman floor mosaic originally from the House of the Faun in Pompeii that dates from circa 100BC. It depicts a battle between the armies of Alexander the Great and Darius III of Persia and measures 2. 72 by 5. 13 metres. The mosaic is believed to be a copy of an early 3rd-century BC Hellenistic painting. The style of the mosaic is distinctly Greek in that it depicts close up portraits of the main heroes of the battle. The debate among scholars over the significance of the Roman copy is that it cannot and should not be interpreted in the same cultural and historical context as the Greek original. Some believe that in doing so, it takes away both context and achievement from Roman artists. The work is traditionally believed to show the Battle of Issus. Alexander is depicted in a profile view facing the left side of the mosaics. He is posed in action killing a man with a spear or javelin in his right arm. He features a Roman nose and a stoic look in combat. Alexander wears a breastplate with the head of Medusa, a famous Gorgon.
This can be seen as a reference to the gorgon’s magical head. The horse is a large figure that draws much attention because of its positioning backward. Darius can be recognized as the other large figure in the mosaic. There are various elements surrounding him to flee from the battle scene. There is visible fear and anxiety in the Persian king’s face, especially in his furrowed brows and deep frown. Darius is also portrayed sacrificing himself to save the Persian King Oxyathres. This may be a reference. to the Persian defeat and weak leadership displayed by the King. The Persian king is positioned in front of the audience with a raised tail in his left arm while his arm is outstretched towards Alexander. Note that Alexander does not wear a battle helmet so that he could be recognizable as the great conqueror. Alexander intended to replace Darius as king of Persia with a highly expanded autocracy while commanding respect and authority.