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Mazes and Labyrinths

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Author Topic: Mazes and Labyrinths  (Read 3544 times)
Kabrina Teppe
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Posts: 1279

« Reply #60 on: March 19, 2009, 01:32:56 pm »

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FIG. 37.--Mosaic at Susa, Tunis. (C.R. Acad. Inscriptions, Paris.)

discovered in 1884 at Brindisi, and placed in the municipal museum of that town. It measures 17 ft. by 10 ft. 6 in., and shows within a square labyrinth Theseus in the act of clubbing the Minotaur, who has fallen on his

p. 51

knees. Around the labyrinth are various perches with birds thereon, perhaps in allusion to the automatic birds reputed to have been made by Daedalus (cf. Fig. 36).

We shall examine other mosaic and pavement labyrinths when we come to consider the question of the use of this symbol by the Church.

Apart from the designs on Knossian coins, Greek art does not appear to have left us any definite representations of the labyrinths, although with the Romans, who acquired the idea at a later date, it was a favourite motif.

We cannot, however, ignore the suggestion that has been made that certain structures discovered in the ruins of Tiryns and Epidaurus, two cities in that part of ancient Greece known as the Argolid, are architectural labyrinths, used for ritual purposes. The foundations of the tholos, or rotunda, of the sanctuary of Aesculapius at Epidaurus, which was excavated by P. Kabbadias, Director of the Greek Archaeological Society, in the ’eighties, do certainly suggest something of the kind. They consist of concentric circular walls, the three innermost being connected by a radial wall, separated by narrow spaces which intercommunicate by an opening or doorway in each wall, forming in plan a figure somewhat in the style of the "Pigs in Clover" toy mentioned in a later chapter. When the peculiar nature of the upper part of the building is considered, however, it seems very reasonable to suppose that these walls, with their passages, were designed only with a view to the requirements of the superstructure which they had to support.

As for the slightly similar concentric foundations unearthed by German excavators at Tiryns in 1912, the analogy is too imperfect to afford reliable grounds for the statement in question.

Greek ceramic art, on the other hand, furnishes us with very many allusions to the Theseus-Minotaur myth, and also with a profusion of frets and meanders, which are thought in some cases to be symbolical of the labyrinth.

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