Personification of Agora (Abundance of the Marketplace)
Unknown Roman Artist
Late 4th century CE
48 x 88 x 4 in. (121.92 x 223.52 x 10.16 cm)
Middle East, Syria
Medium and Support:
Lent by the Worcester Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Albert W. Rice
Bellarmine Hall Galleries
This is a fragment of a larger mosaic floor measuring about 13 by 9 feet, which was discovered in a necropolis outside the Syrian city of Antioch, which played a key role in the ancient Mediterranean world. This piece of the mosaic formed part of a decorative border around a center scene depicting an all-female funerary banquet. She is identified in Greek letters as Agora, or the spirit of the marketplace, and was matched by another female personification of Eukarpia, or Fertility.
Funerary banquets were a regular feature of late-antique Roman life, as the living returned to the necropolis to hold feasts in honor of the dead. This floor is unusual for its female subjects; it has been suggested that the women depicted in the central scene may have been part of a business association. A kinship relationship is another possibility.