The central and largest of all panels is composed of two scenes, one taking place on land, the other on the sea. Together they illustrate a beauty contest between Cassiopeia and the Nereids, daughters of Nereus, god of the waters. According to some ancient sources, Cassiopeia, famous for her beauty, was the wife of Cepheus, ruler of Ethiopia, and mother of Andromeda. According to other mythographers she was the beautiful wife of Phoenix (the eponym of Phoenicia), king of Sidon or Tyre. On our mosaic she is seemingly the Cassiopeia of the latter version. The victorious queen shown in the attitude of Aphrodite Anadyomene, reveals her fine body for the beholders to judge. She is being crowned by a winged goddess, who, although she looks like Nike, a victory, is identified by a fragmentary inscription as Krisis, a personification of judgement. Aion, the judge of eternal time having no beginning and no end, sits in the middle. It is he who has given his name to the newly discovered house. He is the supreme and impartial judge of the competition. A nimbus surrounds his head of greyish hair adorned with a wreath of golden leaves. In his left hand he holds a golden sceptre, his right hand (only the fingers have been preserved) points towards the winner, Cassiopeia. A young boy whom an inscription identifies as Kairos, a personification of an opportune moment, hands Cassiopeia a lucky lot just drawn from a golden vessel. From behind some clouds far above the heads of the participants, Helios, god of the sun, and probably Selene, goddess of the moon (completely destroyed), greet Cassiopeia from the heavens.
© 1998 Photo, text: W. A. Daszewski, D. Michaelidis. “Guide to the Paphos Mosaics”. Bank of Cyprus cultural foundation, 1998. P. 65, 67, 69.