Yep. it's Hades and Persephone

The archaeologists have uncovered the rest of the mosaic.  And there, sure enough, is Persephone.



Which means the guy carrying her off is Hades.  Which means you can't use this picture to predict who's inside.  It's a stock image, like putting Jesus on the cross over a modern tomb.

Of course, this one's a particularly exquisite stock image!  The intriguingly round damage in the centre is a bit of a bummer, but even so this mosaic will be gracing art history textbooks for the next century or so.

The press release on this mentioned the same thing I did in my last post: the style of this picture is very similar to one at the royal Macedonian burial ground at Vergina.  That other tomb is believed to be Philip II's, the father of Alexander.

Let me take a moment to talk about why the guy on the chariot could be called either Hades or Pluto.  In the original Greek religion he was Hades.  His underworld realm of the dead came to be known by the name of its ruler, but that wasn't originally the case.

By the time of Nicolaos and Diotima, the dead go to Hades, which is ruled by Hades.  This is kind of confusing.  In my books therefore I usually distinguish by calling the place Hades, and its ruler Lord Hades, which isn't technically correct but means you have some idea of which Hades is meant when my characters are talking.

Real classical Greeks had the same problem, so sometimes referred to the god Hades by his epithet Plouton.  The Romans picked that up and changed it to Pluto.

So technically I could call him Pluto in my books, but if I did, too many readers would imagine a lovable puppy dog, which isn't quite the reaction I want when discussing the feared Lord of the Dead.

5 comments:

Amalia Dillin said...

I had this problem in Helen of Sparta, too, with the whole Pirithous and Persephone adventure. I think I ended up referring to Hades-the-place as the House of Hades, since they were talking about actually invading Hades' home in order to steal Persephone. It was definitely a hot topic in copyedits before I did that, though.

That mosaic is phenomenal, though!

Gary Corby said...

Hi Amalia!

Yes indeed, and you can't use Tartarus either, because at that date it was a different place.

I guess we might try calling it simply the underworld, but it's a bit generic.

Amalia Dillin said...

Yeah, and then you have the whole to capitalize Underworld or NOT to capitalize underworld issue, too.

So many complications!

Orange said...

This tomb is a real mystery, I can't wait to have the full story once the archaologists have done their work.

Gary Corby said...

The latest is five bodies inside. One cremated, one an old woman, two middle aged men, one of them murdered, and a newborn child. Looks like a family vault then.