Itinerary B
Piazza Armerina

[4] An excited hunting trip

Wandering along the edges of the corridor of the “great hunt” is like taking a journey through the senses. The dynamism of the scenes represented also seems to evoke their sound dimension. Don’t you feel like you can hear the clanging of the laurel-crowned military hunter’s shields as they stand in a compact line in North Africa while capturing panthers? The orderly military efficiency alternates with episodes of wild animals fighting: a leopard is about to bite an antelope while, behind them, a panther reaches what could be one of its cubs.
No noise is heard coming from the wooden crates, placed on top of the wagons destined for shipment. The lack of light has calmed the animals kept inside, and all they hear are the moans of an indolent servant beaten, a little further on, by the rod of an official with a mushroom-shaped stick.
In the depiction of Italy, the “land between the two seas”, the ship that occupies the entire height of the mosaic field is so realistic that it calls out to us to listen to the sound of the rigging in the wind, overlaid by the cries of the beasts destined for the shows in the Flavian Amphitheatre in Rome.
As the loading of animals from the East and the capture of others in the Nile Delta continues, the voices of the coordinating officials and military hunters engaged in the effort to bring the beasts and pachyderms on board serve as the background, while the squeak of the slowly advancing wagons’ wheels can be heard in the air.
From the southern apse you can hear the rustle of some different coloured strips, hanging from a branch used to frighten and capture animals. A scorching wind seems to feed the radiant sun of a phoenix, a mythical being symbolising continuous rebirth.