Articles . Art History

Horses throughout Art History: Battle of Issus

Battle of Issus (Alexander the Great and Darius of Persia), Floor mosaic from House of the Faun, Pompeii, National Archeological Museum of Naples.

The Battle of Issus (The Battle between Alexander the Great and Darius of Persia) is the most impressive mosaic in a vast villa in Pompeii filled with them. This mosaic from the House of the Faun contains over one million tesserae and measures 8’10” x 16’8.7” (2.7 x 5.1 m), it is thought to be a copy of an original Greek painting from 310BC. 

While the artist may not have been at the battle, they did appear to have studied horses, the horses are portrayed with a good degree of accuracy, a variety of colors and sizes of horses were used along with the animals being shown in so many different positions. 

The actual Battle of Issus took place in 333BC, at that time horses had been used in battles for about a thousand years. The horses added to the strength and speed of the military, yet unfortunately horses were also counted among the casualties.

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