Quadrangular Peristyle

A hidden meaning

The search for clues continues by observing, in the floor decoration of the peristyle, the ends of the panels containing the laurel wreaths with animal heads. The repeated presence of an ivy leaf and a bird suggests a hidden meaning; in the Roman world artistic compositions often became a treasure chest of secrets that had to be interpreted.According to the hypothesis of one scholar, the composition conceals an acrostic, in this case a succession of initials referring to the names of the subjects represented, which had a further meaning: the Latin word AVIS (BIRD), the shape of the shoots of the ivy leaf, similar to an M and the letter H, the beginning of the word HEDERA (IVY), related to the decorated leaf in the mosaic, seem to indicate the title AURELIUS VALERIUS IMPERATOR SUFFECTUS MAXIMIANUS HERCULIUS.
By analysing the acrostic, we find: Aurelius Valerius, followed in the proper name of Maximian by the first name Marcus, and probably added in 285 AD, the year when Maximian was named caesar by Diocletian , to strengthen the connection with the emperor.
Suffectus in the sense of substitute. Usually suffectus is paired with consul in the not-so-rare case of the appointment of another consul in the event of death or removal of one of the two in office.
The last word, Herculius, is the nickname that Maximian assumed in 286 at the time of his election to augustus, co-regent of the Empire with Diocletian who chose for himself the nickname Jovius, descendant of Jupiter.
The legitimacy of the power of both therefore had a divine approval linked to lineage, but Maximian, though an equal to Diocletian as augustus and therefore collaborator, was, at the same time, subordinate to him: as the myth reminds us, Hercules was the son of Jupiter.

The senses tell the massage room

Banquets and panegyrics enlivened the vast hall, against the background of a floor mosaic celebrating the feats of Hercules

The senses tell the Quadrangular Peristyle

A line of armed men for an important Dominus

A large colonnaded portico, a place of connection between the rooms

An organic microcosm: the structure of the villa

The capture of wild animals for the roman amphitheatre games

Worship of the Lares

An individual who has attracted the attention of scholars

The mosaics of the late antiquity residence

A day of hunting at the villa

Solemn and majestic architecture to welcome a high-ranking commissioner

The apotheosis of Hercules

A royal room housed the Dominus during his audiences

The public and private rooms of the villa

The protagonists of the mosaics

The senses tell the monumental entrance

Semi-public rooms

The protagonists of the mosaic and the military themed frescoes

The senses tell the private entrance to the spa

An eloquent symbol: the signum

The prestige of the dominus is revealed through the wall frescoes

Outdoor breakfast

Form of greeting or ritual?

Is the profile of the dominus hidden among the scenes depicted in the mosaics?

A dialogue between mythological and realistic scenes

The possible celebration of a solemn event

The paths of virus, a reflection of the Dominus

The senses tell the Bi-Apsed room

The senses tell the frigidarium

The main nuclei of the Domus

The senses tell the room in the private apartment known as “small hunt”

High-ranking characters depicted in the mosaics of the apsidal niches of the frigidarium

A small room represents one of the activities of the thermal bath route

The golden age: hypotheses about the villa’s period of construction and clues

The senses tell the Tri-Apsed Triclinium

A small room embellished with marble

The senses tell the Sacellum of the Lares

The senses tell the Basilica

An official ceremony to welcome the Dominus

The senses tell the Vestibule

Auspicious symbols and perhaps the initials of the commissioner’s name decorate the mosaic of the apsidal room

A small room used as a privileged entrance to the baths

The catalogue of animals

The astral interpretation of the mosaic

The late antiquity residence: locus amoenus and centre of administrative activities in the heart of Sicily

The realistic depiction of a spa procession with a high-ranking female figure

A chariot race, set in the circus Maximus of Rome, connects the villa to the city and centre of power

The Latifundium

A view of the race from the imperial gallery

The senses tell the bi-apsed ambulatory – Corridor of the “Great Hunt”

The marble from the regions of the empire to decorate the basilica

The rural sacrifice

A hidden meaning

The mansio of Philosophiana. A stopping place