According to Xenophon in his Anabasis this was the cry of delight that rang out from the throats of 10,000 Greek soldiers in 401BC as they crested Mount Theches in Trebizond to see the Black Sea in the distance, knowing it would soon mean safety. They had participated in a failed march on the Persian Empire and were trying to gain home.
These words always come to mind whenever I visit the Mediterranean and see it shining before me, alluring and endlessly fascinating. Maybe as you read this you are already on its shores, in which case I envy you. Here at the gallery we remain open throughout August, but I am looking forward to swimming in those sparkling blue-green waters soon. Maybe I will even take to read the novel by Iris Murdoch which uses those opening words as its title.
Looking through our various museum sales as part of our fifty objects for fifty years of the gallery, this Roman bottle made a quiet impression on me: the sinuous bands of coloured glass echoing the waves of the sea. Oddly, our image is rather low quality, and when enlarging it it broke down into small tiles of colour, like a mosaic, as if echoing the surface of water as it constantly flickers and reforms itself in shifting, abstract blocks of colour
So what is the point of this post? I guess I am saying let's look at this simple bottle, the way the bands of various blues and greens twist into each other, slightly merging at the edges, the gentle sinuous movement looking like the flow of water or weeds beneath the surface. It's like a compressed container of the essence of the sea, full of a marine opulence. If I don't get to the Greek islands this summer (though I hope I do) I can at least look at this bottle and imagine myself elsewhere.
Sold to a university museum in the USA in 2002
Roman multi-coloured marbled glass bottle
1st century AD