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 Lucy Angel
Is there a source from the ancient world that you find yourself coming back to when you want to feel better?
I’ve always loved mosaics, but the Sea Creatures Mosaic from Pompeii is my absolute favourite.
When did you first come across this mosaic?
Rather bizarrely this mosaic first came to my attention when I was looking for Classics related ‘stuff’ that I could use to jazz up my home décor on sites like Redbubble. This particular mosaic (in a beautiful version by Flora Kirk) is available on items ranging from bathmats to cushion covers to miniskirts so of course I wanted them all (I opted for a bathmat in the end!).
Can you tell me a bit about the mosaic and its context?
This mosaic featuring a variety of different sea creatures was originally discovered in the House of the Faun in Pompeii and usually resides in the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli. It has been speculated by some that it served as a kind of menu board and it recently featured in The Ashmolean Museum’s ‘Last Supper in Pompeii’ exhibition.
What is it about the mosaic that appeals to you most?
There’s something really chaotic and alive about the imagery on this mosaic which I really like. I’ve always been fascinated (and a bit scared) by what lurks in the depths of the ocean and the mosaic highlights the heaving, abundant mass of life that might be lurking just underneath the waves.
I also really like that some of the species featured are immediately recognisable to those with even a passing knowledge of what appears on the fishmonger’s slab. Much is made of the seemingly weird and wonderful foods that the Romans ate, but seeing the same creatures being portrayed centuries ago as those familiar to us today feels like a common link to people from the past to the present.
And finally… what do you do, outside of studying the ancient world, to cheer yourself up?
I am a Secondary school teacher, mum to a very energetic 3 year old and have a baby due in early June so I sometimes struggle to carve time out for myself! I enjoy cooking, reading, collecting books and spoiling my beautiful, if rather neurotic, Persian cat. In normal times I enjoy travelling and prevailing upon the boundless hospitality of my Italian and Greek relatives. I am also very lucky to live in the North East of Scotland which is a fantastic part of the world to get out and about and explore and I enjoy visiting and learning about local archaeological sites.
I’m a Secondary School teacher in Aberdeenshire. I teach Classical Studies in a local state school and am currently undertaking my MA in Classical Studies through the OU which has been generously funded through an A.G. Leventis Foundation school teacher scholarship and Classics for All. I am also Vice Chair of the newly established Classical Association of Scotland: Aberdeen and North of Scotland Centre.
Catch up with all the Comfort Classics interviews here.