Rainbow Labyrinths

The Roman labyrinth is a design commonly used for ancient Roman floor mosaics. The path consisted of 4 quadrants, each of which is completed before the next is started. The path within the quadrants varied but was commonly a three quarters unrolled Cretan labyrinth and that is what I have used here.

Unlike the Cretan & Medieval labyrinths, it is was conventionally square not circular so I have not had to adapt that aspect. However I have adapted it into a loop whereas the real Roman labyrinths started at the centre of one outside edge and ended in the centre where there was typically a picture of Theseus killing the Minotaur. As the rotationally symmetrical pattern of four identical but rotated quadrants inevitably leads back to the start, the ending in the centre was fudged by making the fourth quarter to a different pattern or by distorting the widths in one half to squeeze in an extra path from the edge to the centre. I am not so obsessed with fitting in Theseus (whom I consider to be a rather nasty mythological character rather than a hero anyway) but I am obsessed with symmetry so I've opted for aesthetic & mathematical purity instead of historical accuracy and used 4 equal quadrants.

Roman Looped Basic

Roman labyrinth looped spectrum

The spectrum clearly shows how each quadrant is complete in turn before progressing to next one (unlike in the Medieval labyrinth).

Roman Narrow Path

Roman labyrinth looped spectrum narrow path

The same but with the path narrower than the wall. I think that makes it look more elegant.

Roman 2 Cycles

Roman labyrinth looped spectrum 2 cycles

Increasing the number of cycles through the spectrum from 1 to 2 restores some of the rotational symmetry lost in the colouring giving a diad symmetry with attractively alternating quadrant colouration.

Roman 2 Cycles with White Walls

Roman labyrinth looped spectrum 2 cycles white wall

Changing the wall (background) colour from black to white changes the visual appearance of path colours (which have not been changed) too in the human visual system (counterintuitively the path appears lighter to me even though it is now darker than its background).

Roman 2 Cycles Narrow Path

Roman labyrinth looped spectrum 2 cycles narrow path

Roman 4 Cycles

Roman labyrinth looped spectrum 4 cycles red start

Increasing the number of cycles through the spectrum to 4 restores the full tetrad rotational symmetry of the labyrinth and makes a nicely colourful design.

Roman 4 Cycles with Cyan Start

Roman labyrinth looped spectrum 4 cycles cyan start

As before but starting the cyclic spectrum on cyan (half way through as cyan is the complementary colour to red) gives a colder appearance than starting on red because it is dominated by blue in the centre and cyan/green on the outside (which are the two most prominent places) instead of orange & red/magenta.

Roman 4 Cycles Narrow Path

Roman labyrinth looped spectrum 4 cycles red start narrow path

Roman 8 Cycles

Roman labyrinth looped spectrum 8 cycles

Increasing the number of cycles to 8 gives a very gaudy effect (and the quantisation of the colour to path cells starts to become obvious).

Roman Compact

Roman labyrinth looped compact spectrum 2 cycles

The template I used for the preceding Roman labyrinths (looped) is not the most compact that it could be. As there is no need for a central space in which to put the Minotaur image, it can be closed up by one path & wall width. Here is a rendering from such a template with 4 cycles. However, I prefer the slightly less compact version because some of the inner corners of the path are almost reduced to mere kinks in the compact version.


Roman labyrinth looped Roman labyrinth looped template
Roman labyrinth looped, compact Roman labyrinth looped compact template

More Rainbow Labyrinths

For more, go up to the Rainbow Labyrinth Gallery home page.