Return to Roman London
The mosaic shows the rape of Europa by Jupiter in the guise of a bull and covered the floor of a semi-circular dining room when a large apse was added to the building about AD 360. She is accompanied by two cupids, one of whom clutches the bull's tail in an attempt to prevent the abduction. The Latin text is a quote from Virgil's Aeneid.
At about the same time, the occupants adopted Christianity and converted several rooms into a chapel. Fragments of painted wall plaster have been reconstructed that show the Chi-Rho monogram as well as Christians at prayer, the only such examples to be found from a villa in Roman Britain. The juxtaposition of the mosaics and paintings, with their pagan and Christian themes, suggests that the scene depicting Europa may be symbolic and represent the freeing of the soul after death.