One of Emperor Tiberius’ villa is located in the town of Sperlonga which lies between Rome and Naples along the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Within the ruins of the villa and the grotto which contained a triclinium (dining room) archaeologists excavated hundreds of pieces of sculpture. In 1957 when Sperlonga residents realized that the sculptures might be moved, repaired and displayed elsewhere, they blocked the site entrance and prevented work until they secured a commitment that the pieces would remain at Sperlonga. Today, the sculptures can be viewed at the Museum of Sperlonga.
The first century BC villa consisted of three parts: the villa itself with rooms surrounding a peristyle, a terrace near the beach, and a cave/grotto. The grotto contained a square basin immediately behind the entrance and the inner cave. In the basin was a rectangular island that was used as dining room; those eating over here, could look into the inner cave, where the statuary were displayed.
Tiberius featured in his grotto the legend of Odysseus, the Greek hero who wandered for years after the end of the Trojan War. Inside the cave, colossal statues depicts Odysseus’ adventures. In the center of the basin was a Scylla and, behind it, deep inside the cave, an Odysseus blinding the Cyclops Polyphemus. On the sides were a group showing Odysseus with the body of Achilles and a group of Diomedes and Odysseus stealing the Palladion. In the upper part of the cave was a Ganymedes. The Scylla is signed by Athanodorus, son of Agesander, Agesander, son of Paionius, and Polydorus, son of Polydorus who sculpted the Laocoan Group.
Next week, a heroic hunk from the sea RitaBay