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The goddess Diana and the hunt

  Among the Romans hunting was not only a means of obtaining food, but it took up a lot of leisure time, either to capture animals for public shows or as entertainment for the upper classes.


  There are numerous representations of this activity and the sacred rites that accompanied it. In the Arch of Constantine appear scenes of big game and the previous sacrifice to the Goddess Diana. We also find examples in numerous mosaics as it was a favorite theme among the owners of the villas: La Olmeda (Palencia), Centcelles (Tarragona), Cardeña- Gimeno (Burgos), Villa del Casale (Piazza Armerina, Sicily)...

  Cohors Prima Gallica recreates several of these scenes. The domine of a village makes an offering to the Goddess Diana with the presence of her family, servants and the group of hunters that accompanies him. A brief explanation of characters, clothing and materials precedes the minor and major hunting scenes, which we try to reproduce taking as reference the graphic documents of the time.

Domine performing the offering to the goddess Diana

Offering to Diana of the mosaic of the small game of Villa del Casale, Piazza Armerina

The family, with their handmaidens, ready to perform the ceremony before the hunt


  The scene represents the hunting of a hare by a domine accompanied by a tracker (indagator) and a servant who carries the materials and food necessary for the successful completion of this activity.

The tracker locates the prey and captures it with a special net manufactured for that purpose

Hare hunting with bident.

Mosaic of the Villa del Casale, Piazza Armerina


  After choosing the right place, the servants and hunters place the nets and corridors to give way to the hunting of a deer (VENATIO). Different characters intervene (vestigatores, alatores, pressors...) each one of them with a specific function and, after blowing the horn, appears the deer that, little by little, will go driving towards the net, where it is lanced, being the domine the manager to give the coup de grace.

Hunters preparing the net-trap for deer

Mosaic of the Villa del Casale, Piazza Armerina (Photograph by Dr. James D´Emilio)

The prey, without escape, is trapped in the net

at the mercy of the hunters

"Montium domina ut fores, silvarumque virentium,

saltuumque reconditorum, amniumque sonantum..."


(Lady of the mountains, of the green forests, of the isolated glens,

of the mighty rivers...)

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