Itinerary B
Piazza Armerina

[5] majestic classroom that enhances the profile of the Dominus

We enter this imposing rectangular room which, with its elevated position, dominates the entire late antique residence. It was used by the dominus as an assembly hall because, in the centre of the apse, there was a seat from which the lord would converse with his guests.

The vaulted ceiling above it was covered with golden mosaic tiles and brilliant glass pastes, creating a particularly atmospheric setting for those who approached it. In reality, the architecture of the basilica and the marble it was decorated with must have reflected the high social rank of its owner. The floor of the hall, which is now very fragmented, contains only part of the marble slabs that it was made of. It contains large rectangular squares composed of inlaid designs in which antique red porphyry, cipolin green and antique green, and Phrygian marble stand out. In the tondos, you can see porphyry, the yellow of Numidian marble and the green of Tessalic marble, white and black tiger marble, as well as other valuable varieties. At the time, the hall’s side walls also featured large panels inlaid with colourful marble, symmetrically placed on a covering of grey veined marble that also covered the apse under the gaze of a statue of Hercules located in the centre, in a niche.

Just imagine how the rays of sunlight, which entered through the large side windows, managed to spread an aura of solemnity in this grandiose place of representation. The dominus received the administrators of the fundus, the settlers, the traders and the clientes there to discuss business related, above all, to the management and production of the latifundium, in an atmosphere far removed from the audiences held in the Giulia Basilica in the Forum of Rome. From the wide entrance staircase, guarded by two huge red granite columns, those who were called to appear before the lord of the manor after waiting in the corridor of the “great hunt” proceeded with cautious steps.