At its peak (period of ancient Rome) Atina, a powerful and flourishing city, was a place of residence and passage for many illustrious men.
One of the many testimonies of this rich past is illustrated by a mosaic found in the locality of Settignano in Atina in 1760. It was immediately transported to Naples.
Noticed by the famous archaeologist Winckelmann, it was bought by Cardinal Alessandro Albani and transferred to his house in Rome.
In 1852, Villa Albani and its art collection were purchased by Prince Torlonia, from which the villa takes its current name and where the mosaic is still preserved today.
Unfortunately no photos of this mosaic were available until now.
Most people from Atina were not even aware of its existence and its close connection with the History of Atina.
This is why, in 2020 having heard of the existence of the precious mosaic, Euratina decided to investigate further, and began to contact the Torlonia foundation with the aim of obtaining a right of representation of the mosaic.
Three years later, thanks to the tenacity of our association, the collaboration of the municipality of Atina and the benevolence as well as the nobility of the foundation, Atina was able for the first time in its history to contemplate a life-size color reproduction, of this superb mosaic in the Ducal Palace of Atina.
We hope to see soon the reproduction, permanently exhibited in the Archaeological Museum of Atina and the Valle di Comino.
In the meantime we have obtained the permission, from the Foundation, to publish the image on our website.
Please note that any furhter use of this photo is prohibited without the prior written consent of the Torlonia Foundation!
Hercules (Heracles corresponds to Hercules of Roman mythology) son of Zeus, one of the heroes of Greek mythology, undertook after his exploits in the 12 most famous labor works, a series of expeditions around the world including one returning to the legendary city of Troy.
Hercules found Troy in a state of crisis! Indeed, King Laomedon of Troy having deceived Poseidon and Apollo by not paying them for the construction of the city walls had to suffer reprisals.
Poseidon sent a large sea monster, finding his appeasement only by wanting to devour the princess, Hesione, who was therefore in danger of being chained to a rock prey to the monster.
Hercules thought he would receive a reward, such as the extraordinary horses of Laomedon, reputed to be immortal and exceptional fast, if he had intervened to avoid this sacrifice.
Hercules threw himself into battle and managed to defeat the monster by letting himself be swallowed up to kill him from inside the animal.
Laomedon, true to himself, did not reward Hercules for having killed the monster and having saved Hesione from a certain death.
Hercules vengeful, could not digest not having been rewarded.
He raised a fleet, consisting of eighteen ships and including great men like Telamon, father of Ajax. When his army captured the city, Hercules gave Hesione in marriage to Telamon, together they had a son, the hero Teucros.
Hercules gave Hésione the opportunity to save one of her Trojan comrades-in-arms: she chose her brother Podarces, later known as Priam.
A few years later, the son of Priam and nephew of Hesione, a certain Paris, used as a pretext to visit his aunt to kidnap Helen, wife of the king of Sparta, Menelaus, which triggered the start of the Trojan War and the confrontation with the legendary Achilles...
The polychrome mosaic, dating to Roman times, depicts the liberation of Princess Hesione by Hercules.
The scene takes place near a rocky promontory, to which the young girl had been chained, in front of a body of water from which emerges the head of the sea monster hit by the arrow of Hercules.
In the central position stands Hesione, depicted as she descends from the rock, supported by Telamon.
On the left, under the rock, is represented a kind of miniature temple: according to Helbig it would be a perfume box but more likely, as Winckelmann maintains, it would rather be a schematization of the city of Troy.
On the right, Telamon helps Hesione down from the rock; finally, on the left, Hercules wears only a kind of wide green belt and holds a bow and arrows in his left hand.
Special thanks to Vincenzo Orlandi (municipal official of Atina and member of Euratina) and Bianca Malitesta (Torlonia Foundation).
The Torlonia Foundation was created at the request of Prince Alessando Torlonia, with the aim of preserving and promoting the Torlonia Collection, the most important private collection of Greco-Roman sculptures in the world and the Villa Albani Torlonia, one of the highest expressions of taste from the 18th century: "cultural heritage of the Family for humanity" to be passed on to future generations.