The Seven Wise Men mosaic

The seven wise men mosaic

Archaeologists found this mosaic while excavating the site of a roman era villa in Soueidie, Ras el-‘Ayn, Baalbek. The mosaic use to decorate a “Triclinum”, or the dining room in this second century roman villa. The mosaic’s frame was decorated with scenes that symbolize the four seasons. Only the summer scene is still visible, composed by Gaia, the Greco-roman earth goddess, while a wing boy is hovering around her holding a sheaf of wheat in his hands.

A framework made out of a white brick stripe separates the upper part from the lower part of the mosaic made out of nine circular frames. At the center of the mosaic, a large frame is dedicated for Kaliope, the muse of philosophy. She is surrounded by Socrates and seven of the most preeminent philosophers of ancient Greece. This is a unique piece, known as the “Banquest of the seven wise men” in roman times, since it depicts the seven wise men with their names, their cities and maxims in Greek letters.

To Socrates right, Solon of Athens, and his maxim is ““Keep everything with moderation”, then comes the philosopher Thales whose maxim is ““Caution is ruin” and next to him the philosopher Bias of Priene, and his maxim is ““Most men are bad”. Then comes Cleobulus of Lindos, the philosopher that said ““Moderation is the best thing” and next to him Periander of Corinth, who says: “Be farsighted with everything”. And next to him Pittacus of Mytilene whose maxim is: “You should know which opportunities to choose.” The seventh and the last is Chilon of Sparta that said : “You should not desire the impossible”.

The guests use to enjoy this mosaic that decorates the pavement of the dining room, for rich Romans use to dine while lying on their divans and being served by slaves.