Friday, 17 October 2014

Amphipolis tomb mosaic

Painting of Hades abducting Persephone from
the tomb at Vergina currently attributed to be
that of Philip II                (public domain - US PD1923)
[This is an update to Kassander's tomb?]

A mosaic depicting the abduction of Persephone by Hades has been discovered at the tomb in Amphipolis. While the news report is claiming this as a revelation that the occupant is a member of the Macedonian royal family, I had already identified it as being built for such through its use of thirteen steps.

The same subject is depicted in a painting from a tomb at Vergina originally identified as that of Alexander's father, Philip II. Afterward, it was claimed to be of Philip III, but has recently been given back to Philip II.

The subject matter is typical of the Eleusinian Mysteries, however, Philip II is known to have been connected with the lesser-known Samothracian Mysteries where the same deities were referenced. Unlike the Eleusinian Mysteries, the Samothracian were open to non-Greek speaking people and this might signify that Philip II spoke the sparsely recorded ancient Macedonian language or was honoring his ancestors who did.

Although some reports are identifying the figure of Hermes in the mosaic in his role as psychopomp, his role in the abduction of Persephone was as a messenger for Zeus to both Hades and Persephone's mother, Demeter about freeing Persephone. (Robert Graves, The Greek Myths, Demeter's nature and deeds)

While it seems more than likely that the Amphipolis tomb was originally built for Alexander the Great, he was not buried there (taken to Alexandria) and it still remains to be seen if the tomb is occupied by another person, or was used as a cenotaph.


  1. hi john,ancient macedonian was a different dialect of greek,not a distinct language.%99 of scholars recognise this the other %1 come from skopje.people who say macedonian was unrelated to greek have to provide evidence which just doesnt exist anywhere in any form.the macedonians as far back as 750/700 bc considered themselves greek and traced their origins to argos.all the ancient macedonian coins,tablets,inscriptions are in one type of greek or another.
    ps,im back safe from greece,just bought a few pieces all of the nice pieces were sold.i was searched at the airport[some of the items were bronze and come up on the xray] ,bags where opend,pieces examined but i was waived through[thank god] they didnt even ask to see the paperwork.

  2. Hi Kyri, Yes, but I was wondering if it was too "provincial" to allow entry into the Eleusinian Mysteries. Otherwise, I wonder why Philip went to Samothrace? I know that Aristophanes was one for taking the mickey out of Thracians. Here, in Canada we are bilingual (officially) Québécois is largely 17th century French with a smattering of First Nations and more recent slang, yet when government officials take French lessons, it is Parisian French that is taught. Quebec is touchy about English signs and have "language police" to protect against it. Funny thing is that "stop" comes from old French, anyway.

    I can't imagine how anyone would think that ancient Macedonian would be unrelated to Greek unless they were getting it confused with modern Macedonain.

    I'm relieved to hear that you made it back from Athens with the antiquities without any nastiness at customs! Did she mention Malcolm, btw? (email me privately if warranted)

    1. It just occurred to me that customs probably knew it was all legit just by looking at you. My first job was for British United Airways as a go-between for customs and the public. Those customs agents would take one look at a person and know if they were on the level.