Monday, January 28, 2013

Oceanus' Crab Claws

This mosaic is typical of ancient Rome and inhabitants of Ostia Antica used them to decorate floors of bath houses and market places. The man on the left has to be Oceanus, the first of the Titans and son of Gaia and Uranus, because of the clawed hands. Oceanus derived from Greek legends and he was quite a figure. He is the divine representation of the world ocean which encircles the world and is also the God of rivers and streams. In the great Clash of the Titans, Oceanus, like Prometheus, withdrew from the battle and refused to take sides. Could this be what the image is about? Watery Oceanus would naturally be a popular choice for bath house decor, but it's also likely this is in Ostia's market place. In that case, the scene might denote the type of merchandise on sale in that part of the market. I'm speculating, because I took the shot but failed to get the accompanying explanation! I do like both hands and claws and the mosaic detail is quite lovely. But the crab claws are really interesting. Although crabs are lunar symbols, they are Chtonic and of the Underworld. The crab shifts along the bottom of the sea causing the water to move, bringing storms. Maybe it's the sideways movement that gave claws to Oceanus. Generally no slouch, Oceanus certainly shuffled off and out of the way of that Titanic battle - leaving the storm to rage.