Wall painting: Polyphemus and Galatea in a landscape, from the imperial villa at Boscotrecase

Period: Early Imperial, Augustan

Date: last decade of the 1st century B.C.

Culture: Roman

Medium: Fresco

Dimensions: H. 73 3/4 in. (187.33 cm.)
width 47 in. (119.38 cm.)

Classification: Miscellaneous-Paintings

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1920

Accession Number: 20.192.17


This fresco from the Imperial villa at Boscotrecase combines two separate events in the life of the monstrous Cyclops, Polyphemus. In the foreground, he sits on a rocky outcrop tending his goats. The Cyclops holds his panpipes in his right hand as he gazes at the beautiful sea nymph Galatea, with whom he is hopelessly in love. In the upper right part of the fresco, Polyphemus is depicted hurling a boulder at Odysseus and his companions, who have just blinded the Cyclops. Odysseus' ship is seen sailing away at the far right. The fresco's blue-green background unifies the differing episodes from the myth of Polyphemus, and must have lent a sense of coolness to the room.