The world is in a state of upheaval at the moment, and we’re all looking for things to make us feel less anxious. Maybe Classics can help.
Today’s interview is with Jack Lambert.
Is there a source from the ancient world that you find yourself coming back to when you want to feel better?
The mosaic of Neptune and Amphitrite from the House of Neptune and Amphitrite in Herculaneum. I have a picture I took of it as my computer desktop image, so I see it every day. I guess it’s a comfort through familiarity, but occasionally I take a moment to appreciate it.
When did you first come across this mosaic?
I was on the Amalfi coast for a friend’s wedding in September 2014 and while there I visited the archaeological site at Herculaneum, which I’d never been to before. I was enjoying exploring the different buildings without necessarily following the guidebook and I ‘discovered’ this mosaic which really stood out for me.
Can you tell me a bit about the mosaic and its context?
It’s found in the triclinium of an atrium house in Herculaneum (Insula V, Cardo IV), the House of Neptune and Amphitrite, which is named after the subjects of the mosaic. The house is lavishly decorated and contains another ornate mosaic in its Nymphaeum.
What is it about this mosaic that appeals to you most?
Instantly striking are the use of colour and the intricate floral patterns which frame the figures of Neptune and Amphitrite. Looking closer you can really appreciate the skill of its creator to give the impression of light on the bodies of the figures and of depth in the fan/shell/awning (?) above them. It’s a really beautiful piece. Beyond that, it brings back great memories of my week spent on the Amalfi coast with childhood friends, most of whom I don’t get the opportunity to see very often.
And finally… what do you do, outside of Classics, to cheer yourself up?
I’ve played the guitar since I was 11 or 12, I’m not sure I’m getting any better, but I like to play when I have the time. Also, coastal walks here in Catalonia are a great way to disconnect, or there are plenty of mountains for something a bit more challenging.
Jack studied a BA and MA with the Open University and has lived and worked in Catalonia and the Basque Country as a TEFL teacher for the last 6 years. He is currently taking a break from teaching and studying a PhD at the University of Barcelona investigating language, identity and sociocultural change among the Iberian peoples of the eastern Pyrenees. His interests include Iberian and Latin epigraphy, and creations and representations of identity in the ancient world.