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Juppiter Optimus Maximus

This will be my last contribution to this thread for this year. I hope it is interesting for lovers of the Roman mythology!

The coin:
Roman Republic, Petillius Capitolinus, gens Petillia
AR - denarius, 18.1mm, 3.82g
         Rome, 43 BC
obv. Eagle with spread wings stg. half-right on thunderbolt
        above PETILLIVS, beneath CAPITOLINVS
rev.  Hexastyle frontside of the temple of Iupiter Capitolinus with three-stepped base;
        garlandes hanging down in the three middle intercolumnaries, on the pediment
        frontal seated figur(?), on acroteries horse-protomes, above figures stg. with
        sceptres, on top biga r.  with charioteer.
        S - F at sides
Crawford 487/2b; Sydenham 1151; Petillia 3
about VF

SF stands for Sacris Faciundis. Petillius Capitolinus doubtless was member of the XV viri sacris faciundis responsible for the religious ceremonies. His family seems to have one of the hereditary offices which were referring to the temple of Iupiter on the Capitolium (Iupiter Capitolinus).

Juppiter Optimus Maximus:
The name Iuppiter originates from the Vocativus *dieu-pater. The stem *dieu- means something like 'shining, divine heaven and lighting day'. Writing Iuppiter with two p's is correct. The reason is the gemination of consonantes. From obliques casus is generated another Nominativus: Iovis. So Iuppiter is the god of the heavenly light. His old cognomen Lucetius (the shining) point to that too.

Iuppiter isn't Zeus! In fact both have the same indoeuropean origin, but the Greek Zeus was mixed up very early with orientalic ideas and has been anthropomorphized. His numerous erotic adventures from which several children descended and his perpetual struggling with Hera are typical for Zeus. Nothing of that we find on Iuppiter! He was not the father of divine or half-divine beings.  He was not the husband of Iuno, and Minerva was not his daughter! But he was rather the divine principle of the highest being. The places struck by lightnings were sacred to him (puteals). However the assimilation between Zeus and Iuppiter happened already in the time of the Roman Republic.

In historical times Iuppiter Optimus Maximus was the main and state god of Rome. Optimus doesn't mean 'the best', but because it is originated from 'ops' (= power) it means the 'most powerful'. Increasing in honor Iuppiter became the protector of all of the Roman people. With the development of urbanization and the increasing importance of the city, it was only natural that this tutelary deity should have risen to greater pre-eminence, while his associate Mars shed agricultural associations for more bellicose dispositions. Under the name of Iuppiter Capitolinus, he presided over the Roman games, always an important feature of ancient city life. With the introduction of Emperor worship, a means of testing the loyalty of the subject as much as an official religion, Iuppiter's political function was somewhat decreased, though traitors were still thrown from Tarpeian rock on Capitoline Hill. Iuppiter was no longer the embodiment of the greatness and prosperity of the Roman Empire, but rather, he served as a divine guide of the world. Cicero, who in 43 BC had his head and hands cut off for advocating a return to republican principles, equated Jove with numen praestantissimae mentis, "the presence of a supreme mind." This was a conception not unlike monotheism of Christianity, to which the conversion of Emperor Constantine in 312 AD meant the beginning of the end of the European pagan era.

The temple on the Capitoline Hill:
The temple of Iuppiter Optimus Maximus was situated at the southern slope of the Capitoline Hill. Together with Iuno and Minerva they represent the so-called Capitoline Trias. His temple was the most magnificent in Rome.

It was vowed by king Tarquinius Priscus while battling the Sabines, completed by his successor Tarquinius Superbus and consecrated under the consul M. Horatius Pulvillus in 509 BC. Construction and consecration so fell in the time of the Etruscian kings a fact which later was obscured by the Romans. In the temple Iuppiter took the middle cella, Iuno Regina the left one and Minerva the right one. Especially Etruscian master builder have participated in the design and the construction of the temple. Erecting a statue - known already from the cities around Rome - constitutes a break in the history of the Roman religon: "It was the first step on the way which later led to the result that the old shapeless powers could be thought of only anthropomorphized and if this was impossible were forgotten." (Clavus)

The temple of Iuppiter was the centre of the national life. Here the consules took the oath of office and here always the first meeting of the senate took place. Here the military commanders sacrificed before the go to war and here always the elebration of triumphs ended. Thereby the triumphator colored his face with red lead to look like the clay of the statues.

Several times the temple burned down mostly by the stroke of lightning, but during the Civil War 69 AD too when the adherents of Vitellius assault the Capitoline Hill. At last it was in AD 86 when Domitian rebuilt the temple and founded too the agon Capitolinus which consisted in chariot races, sportive and musical competitions.

The temple was built on substructions. There were three cellae side by side. That in the middle was dedicated to Iuppiter and contained a terra cotta statue of the god, with a thunderbolt in his right hand, said to have been the work of Vulca of Veii, the face of which was painted red on festival days. The statue was clothed with a tunic adorned with palm branches and Victories (tunica palmata), and a purple toga embroidered with gold (toga picta), the costume afterwards worn by Roman generals when celebrating a triumph. The entablature was of wood, and on the apex of the pediment was a terra cotta group, Jupiter in a quadriga, by the same Etruscan artist as the statue in the cella. This was replaced in 296 BC by another, probably of bronze. There is no doubt that pediment and roof were decorated with terra cotta figures, among them a statue of Summanus 'in fastigio' (perhaps therefore an acroterion). In 193 BC the aediles M. Aemilius Lepidus and L. Aemilius Paullus placed gilt shields on the pediment. In 142 the ceiling was gilded. This temple became a repository of works of art of many sorts, the gifts of Roman generals and foreigners, as well as of dedicatory offerings and trophies of victory, of which the earliest recorded was a golden crown presented by the Latins in 459. The number of these became so great that in 179 BC it was necessary to remove some of the statues and many of the shields affixed to the columns. Sadly nothing remained of ths temple because of the chaos in the middle ages. So we are dependent on the description of Plinius and others and the depiction on coins.

The mintmaster:
It's interesting that the mintmaster - named as Petillius Capitolinus on the coin - occurs in the satires of Horatius (Sat. lib. IV)! Note 14 of the link below: Petillius charged with the controllership of the Capitolium once was accused of having stolen the golden crown of Iuppiter Capitolinus. Only because he was friend of Augustus the judges have found him not guilty. Another one added that this was the reason that he was named Capitolinus! But that seems to be unsubstantiated as Terentius already has noted. But that Capitolinus as friend of Augustus was absolved to honor the Emperor has added a negative touch, is a bit doubtful, because amicus here seems to be only a parvus amicus meaning a client, and in this case Augustus was not only legitimated but obligated to save his client as well he could. Indeed there was another reason too to do so; for it was his adoptive father, the great Iulius Caesar - as mentioned by Sueton - who has stolen three thousand pounds of gold from the Capitolium during his first consulate. And therefore Petillius could have said not without some right - like that of Terentius -: ego homuncio non facerem (Me as such a mediocre being would never have done that)!     

I have added two pics:
1) A diagram of the Capitoline Hill where you can see the ancient buildings in relation
     to Michelangelo's famous piazza.
2) A model showing the temple how it could have been looked. Clearly you can see
     the decoration of the roof.

- Der kleine Pauly
- Rainer Pudill, Die Götter Roms, in 'Das Fenster', Oct. 2006
- (The theft of Petillius)
  Rome/_Texts/PLATOP*/Aedes_Jovis_Capitolini.html (History and description of the
  temple of Iuppiter!)
- (Model of the Capitoline Hill)

Best regards

Ganymedes - the beautiful

Troas, Dardanos, Hadrian, AD 117-138
AE 21, 4.53g
      Bust, draped and cuirassed, laureate, r.
rev. DARDAN - WN
      Eagle facing, head l., carrying Ganymedes, wearing chlamys and Phrgian bonnet,
      holding pedum in raised r. hand
very rare, about VF

Note: This is the companion piece to Bellinger T136 from Troas-Ilium and Bellinger describes the reverse as "Remarkable in the presentation of a scene of Trojan mythology anterior to the Homeric story".

Ganymedes was the son of Tros, founder and king of Troy, and his wife Kallirrhoe, daughter of Skamandros, according to others son of Laomedon. He was of unbelievable beauty. Once when he was hunting at the mount Ida, others say near the Dardanic promontory, Zeus sent an eagle to abduct him. In heaven he replaced Hebe and became the cupbearer of the gods. He handed the gods nectar and ambrosia. Hera was very angry with Zeus because Hebe was her daughter. According to other authors Zeus needed Ganymedes for his amorous plays. To Tros he gave later a golden grape-vine and  two immortal horses which later got Herakles who in return freed his daughter Hesione of the monster Ketos. Finally Zeus put Ganymedes as constellation to the sky.

But there is this story too: Eos the goddess of dawn has fallen in love with Ganymedes and has abducted him. Zeus then has stolen him from Eos.

This should be behind the myth: When Tros has erected the city and the castle of Troy and has all arranged well he sent his son Ganymedes with fifty men to Lydia to bring Zeus a thank offering. Tantalos, king of Lydia, regarded them as scouts or agents and put them to prison. But when he realized their peaceful purpose he set them free again. Meanwhile Ganymedes has fallen ill and died. Thereupon all returned home exept Ganymedes. Tantalos let him entomb in the temple of Zeus. Because of that the poets have invented the story of the abduction by Zeus.

According to other authors Tantalos was king in Phrygia and Paphlagonia. When he raped Ganymedes because of his great beauty he denied to give him back to Tros. So between both kings a great war originated, and Ilos, the other son of Tros, went on with the war against Pelops, son of Tantalos, so that he was forced to flee to Greece.

Others suggest that it was not Tantalos but Minos from Crete who was the robber of Ganymedes. Under the appearence of friendship he was guest of Tros and then has abducted Ganymedes when they were hunting and took him to Crete where he has committed suicide because of home sickness and mourning. When Minos entombed him in the temple of Zeus it was invented that Zeus has took him to heaven.

Some authors refer his beauty not to the beauty of his body but of his psyche, his intelligence and virtue.

Others claim that the whole story was invented only to euphemize unnatural desires.
Ganymedes, meaning such as 'the lustrous-happy' (actually the joyfull excited by erotic passion) was the son of the Dardanic king Tros (and Kallirrhoe), brother of Ilos and Assarakos. According to Homer Il. 20, 231ff. he was hold for the most beautiful of all mortals. He was raped by the gods to the Olympos to serve as cup-bearer for Zeus and to enjoy eternal youth. As compensation Tros got immortal horses. According to Homer h. 4, 2002 Zeus abducted him for the gods by a blast of wind. The Little Iliad (and Euripides) made Ganymedes the son of Laomedon, and he was given a golden rape-vine by Zeus. Since Ibykos and Pindar the motiv for the abduction was seen in pederasty which by this myth got a kind of heavenly apology. Platon (in his Phaidros) used the myth for his theory of love, but in his nom. 1, 8 he criticized the Cretans for their vice and their appointment to Zeus. In 4th century BC Ganymedes was a popular figure of comedies. At this time was introduced the motiv of the abduction by the eagle as messenger of Zeus, firstly in fine arts, much later literarily. Not until the Hellenism Zeus himself became the robber in the shape of an eagle. The motiv of Hera's jealousy was Hellenistic too. In the kind of Euhemeros Phanokles, Mnaseas and others replaced the divine robber by heroes: Tantalos or Minos. To put him as a constellation to the sky (aquarius) is from the late Hellenism, so it is too with the eagle (aquila). In imperial times the myth of Ganymedes has been mentioned by philosophers and church-fathers often very polemically. It is created literarily in Lukian's dialogues and in the Dionysiaka of Nonnos.

Only a short note here to the pantheistic hymne 'Ganymed' of the young Goethe belonging to his 'Sturm- und Drangzeit' (Wie im Morgenglanze du rings mich anglühst, Frühling, Geliebter!)

History of art:
Much more numerous are depictions in the fine art. Ganymedes was a popular theme in ancient times. The Attic vase painting depicts particularly the pursuit and seizure of Ganymedes by Zeus, f.e. the kantharos of the Brygos painter, c.450 BC, and the bell krater of the Berlin painter, c.490 BC, where Zeus is forced by Eros. Famous too is the terracotta group in Olympia, .470 BC, showing the seizing of Ganymedes. Not until post-classic times the abduction by the eagle, who takes him to heaven or to whom Ganymedes gave water, became the subject of depiction. 340/330 Leochares created a sulpture of the abduction. On tombs and sarkophaguses of early deads these doubtless have symbolic meaning.

The Renaissance has interpreted Ganymedes carried to heaven as an allegory of the elevation of the human soul to god (Scene of the bronze door of Filaretes, St.Peter, Rome, 1435-45). On the other hand by the variation of the eagles's posture the homosexual connotation of the motiv has been expressed (drawing of Michelangelo, c.1533). Rembrandt has satirized the theme by creating a Ganymedes who in fear is passing water (1635, Dresden). Corregio's depiction is the counterpart to the unification of Io with the cloud of Zeus (c.1530-32; Vienna). Thorvaldsen has depicted Ganymedes the cup-bearer several times (1804, 1816, 1817; Copenhagen). The elevation of Ganymedes as aquarius to the sky (and of the eagle as aquila) is found in Peruzzi's frescoes in the Villa Farnesina in Rome (1509-1511)
(1) Nectar, which according to the later mythgraphs was a supranatural red wine which gave immortality, actually was a primitive brown met from fermented honey.
(2) Ambrosia, the delicious food of the gods, seems to have been a porridge of barley, oil and fruits. With that the kings were indulged whereas their subjects (before introducing grain)
had to feed on asphodel's roots, mallows and acorns (Robert von Ranke-Graves)

I have added the following pics:
1) A pic of the red-figured Attic vase of the so-called Berlin painter. Ganymedes here is depicted with a hoop, symbol of youth, and a cock, which was a symbol of homosexuality. It is now found in the Louvre.
2) The pic of the mosaic from the House of Dionysos in Nea Paphos/Cypros. This is the classic depiction which is found on my coin too.
3)The pic of Rembrandt's painting from the Gemäldegalerie in Dresden. Here Ganymedes is shown full of fear! I couldn't resist because of the charming details!

Robert von Ranke-Graves, Griechische Mythologie
Benjamin Hederich, Gründliches mythologisches Lexikon
Der kleine Pauly
Aghion/Barbillon/Lissarrague, Reclams Lexikon der antiken Götter und Heroen in der Kunst

Best regards and a happy and healthy new year!

I have added a 2nd coin with the Ganymedes theme which I got after contributing this article. But  I want to share it here:

Thracia, Hadrianopolis, Septimius Severus, AD 193-211
AE 25
obv. AV KAI [...]
Bust, draped and cuirassed, seen from behind, laureate r.
Ganymedes, with Phrygian bonnet, stg. l. with crossed legs, holding lagobolon
in l. hand and resting with r. hand on eagle, stg. frontal with head r., on rocks;
r. on ground Pan flute.
Jurokova 920 (1 ex. in Istanbul); Varbanov (engl.) 3348 (citing Jurokova)
extremely rare, F/about VF, black-brown patina

This coin shows a scene right before the abduction. Wether the eagle is Zeus himself or only the messenger of Zeus can't be said for sure.



Until today I have presented only coins from my collection. Today I must show another coin from CoinArchives because my coin is too worn to give a good scan. Beg your pardon in advance!

Thessaly, Thebens, 302-186 BC
AE 23, 7.63g
obv. head of Demeter, veiled and crowned with grain-wreath, l.
      Protesilaos, in military cloak and helmeted, armed with sword and shield, jumping from
      a ship's prow to l. on the beach.
Rogers 550; BMC 50; Moustaka 92; SNG Copenhagen 261
extremely rare, VF

The depiction on the reverse is playing at the beginning of the Troyan War. It shows the heroe Protesilaos jumping as the first Greek on the Troyan beach where he was killed as the first of the Greeks. Protesilaos, who is said to have been a suitor of Helena, led the men of Phylake (which later was incorporated in Thebens) on forty ships to Troy, even though he was just married (Homer Il. 2, 695ff.). When the Greeks with their ships came into the range of sight of Troy they hesitated to go on land because Thetis has prophesized Achilleus that the first going on land would be the first being killed. Thereupon Odysseus is said to have thrown his shield on land and then haved jump on it so that his feet haven't touched the ground. So Protesilaos was the first one. After having killed several Troyans he was slain by Hektor or by a friend of Aineas.

Protesilaos, an uncle of Philoktetes and son of Iphiklos originally was named Iolaos, but due to the matter of his death he was renamed (Protesilaos = the first of the people). He was buried on the Thracian  Chersonnesos near the city of Elaios where he was whorshipped as god. High elm trees planted by nymphs stood inside the sacred area and shadowed his tomb. It was said that the twigs looking over the sea to Troy were early green but soon bare too whereas the twigs turned away from Troy stayed green still in winter. When the elm trees were grown so high that it was possible to see Troy from the tops they withered and new trees grew up.

In his temple were oracles especially for warriors. Severel deseases were hailed there too. His spirit once took revenge at the Persian Artyaktes. Artyaktes has disgraced his temple by whoring with broad and then from Xerxes requested the temple treasures. Soon after that Artayktes was besieged in Elaios and when he tried to flee captured. He promised the Greek to pay hundred talents for the stolen treasures and twohundred talents for himself and his son. But Xanthippos, leader of the Greek, refused his offer, and so his son was stoned to death and heself hung.
Protesilaos and Laodameia
Laodameia, wife of Protesilos, daughter of Akastos (according to others it was Polydora, daughter of Meleager), missed her husband so awesome that she - when he was on his joutney to Troy - made a statue of him from wax or bronze and took it with her in her bed. But that was only a poor consolation, and when she got the news of his death she asked the gods to have mercy and to allow Protesilaos to come back to her even for only three hours. Zeus allowed that and Hermes brought the spirit of Protesilaos from the Tartaros back to animate the statue. Protesilaos spoke through its mouth and conjured his wife to hesitate no longer and to follow him. As soon as the three hours were over she stabbed herself to death being in his arms. That's the reason that the depiction of Protesilaos and Laodameia was a popular motiv on  sarcophaguses.

Another myth tells that she was forced by her father Akastos to marry again. But she has
spent her nights rather with the statue of Protesilaos until once a servant looked through the gap of the door of her bed-room. He saw her embracing someone and hold it for her lover. He told that to Akastos and he broke into her bed-room and realized the truth. Akastos didn't want her tantalized by a fruitless desire and commansed to burn the statue. But Laodameia jumped into the fire and perished together with the statue.

There is another story too where Protesilaos survived the Troyan War and sailed home. He took Aithylla, sister of king Priamos, as captive on his ship. On the journey home he landed on the Macedonian peninsula of Pellene. While he went on land for seaking water Aithylla conceived the other captured women to burn the ships. So Protesilaos was forced to stay on Pellene where he founded the city of Skione. But that seems to be wrong: Instead of this Aithylla together with Astyoche and the other captives set the ships on fire at the bank of the Italian river Navaithos; this name means 'burning of ships'. And Protesilaos were not among those they kept imprisoned.

History of art:
I have added the depiction of a marble statue of a wounded warrior. This is the Roman copy of a Greek original from the times of the Antonines, c.138-181, today in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Here the statue is supported by a tree stump. It was surely not seen at the Greek original. But it is remarkable, that it is a sword of Greek type. The headdress, the simplicity of the body, the quasi-parallel folds of the drapery and the complicated pose in momentary action, all point to a date around or a little before the mid-fifth century B.C. for the Greek original.
A second statue in the British Museum has a planklike form surrounded by waves, suggesting the statue might represent Protesilaos descending from his ship, ready to meet his fate. However, the Museum's statue was reinterpreted as a dying warrior falling backward, following the discovery of a wound carved in the right armpit. The Roman writer Pliny mentioned a so-called vulneratus deficiens ("falling warrior") as being among the works of the Greek sculptor Kresilas.

An additional note:
Ovid (Heroides 13) has invented a letter from Laodameia to her far lover. Within the vers Bella gerant alii, Protesilaus amet = Wars should be made by others, Protesilaos should love. This vers is said to be used by the Hungarian king Matthias Corvinus (AD 1440-21490) for the famous word Bella gerant alii, tu, felix Austria, nube! = Wars should be made by others, you, lucky Austria, marry!

Robert von Ranke-Graves, Griechische Mythologie
Karl Kerenyi, Heroengeschichten
Benjamin Hederich, Gründliches mythologisches Lexikon
Gerhard Fink, Who's who in der antiken Mythologie

Best regards

The three Graces

Thracia, Pautalia, Caracalla, AD 198-217
AE 28, 15.33g
struck under magistrate Caecina Largus (AD 198-201)
       Bust,draped and cuirassed, seen from behind, laureate, r.
       in ex. PAVTALI / AC
       The three Graces, nude, embracing each other; the first one seen from the l. side,
       holding jar in the r. hand, from which water flows, the second one seen from
       behind, head r., with garment around the hips (crescent?), holding both arms on
       the shoulders of the other two; the third one seen from the r. side, holding jar in
       the lowered l. hand, from which water flows.
Ruzicka 503, pl.III, 13 (1 ex. in Sarajewo)
very rare, about VF

Pautalia is known as a famous bath, full of parks with tempels and statues. It is known that especially the die-cutters from Pautalia have taken statues for the reverses of their coins. So probably the depiction of these three Graces too is the copy of an original statue.

The Graces or Charites were daughters of Zeus and Erynome. They were quasi a trifold Aphrodite. In later times they were depicted nude. In their temple in Orchomenos in Boiotia they were worshipped in the form of three stones, which were fallen down from heaven to king Eteokles so it was suggested. It was said: The Charites were trifold, should they be a flower, the goddesses or maidens. Eteokles had three daughters, named Trittai, the Trifolds. While performing a dance for the Charites they fall into a fountain which they hadn't mentioned. But the earth had pity with them and let sprout a flower which was called Trittai too and which was trifold too. The myth of the three stones fallen from heaven shows the heavenly aspect of the Graces, the story from the disappesaring in the fountain the connection to the depth of water and the Underworld. This has been said by the mythographs too: the Charites were daughters of the Night and Erebos, or the daughters of Lethe, the River of Forgetting in the Underworld. Probably the daughters of Hekate and Hermes were the trifolds too.

Hesiod and Pindar in Boiotia sung about three of them. The three 'Queens' of Orchomenos were named Aglaia, Euphrosyne and Thalia. Pindar celebrated the 'pure light of the Charites'. In Laconia they were named Kleta, the Called, and Phaenna, the Shining. These were typical names of the moon. The Atheneans too know two Charites: Auxo, the Growing, and Hegemone, the Advancing. They were called daughters of Uranos too.

The Graces, greek. Charites, meaning the 'lovely, friendly', were a trias of blessing issueing deities, originally probably without individual names and not determind in their function or number. This made easy the contact with female nature spirits of similar character  like Nymphs, Muses or Hores. The Attic cult titles Auxo (the growing), Thallo (the flourishing), Karpo (the fruit-bearing) show an early fusion with the Hores. The ambiguity in naming and numbering is affirmed by the replacement of Karpo by Hegemone in the oath of the ephebes on the stele of Acharnai. Their basic function was to donate vegetative fertility shown by their herbal attributs. A lunar relation should be denied, and as well a etymology of light. Rather the assignment of the Charites to the chthonic Charon alternatively of the Charis Hegemone to the Psychopompus Hermes Chthonios should be considered. Their ancient cult in Orchomenos, city of the Minyeans, which was connected to three aniconic meteorites (Pausan. 9, 38, 1) too has traces of agrarian-chthonic orientation. Its character of mysteries and the affinity of the Charites to the circle of Eleusis strengthens the suggestion that there is a relationship with the Eleusinian Potniai, particularly because Pindar gives them the epitheta basileiai, semnai, potniai, the Queens, the Venerables and the Mistresses..

Because obviously the Trias of Orchomenos was sanctioned not until the cult institution of Eteokles which was orientated to the baetyls priority should be addmitted perhaps to the dualism which is known from many other sources. Then the equalization with Damia and Auxesia, hypostases of Demeter-Kore, could get support. By the way here and in Elis somewhat points to a connection to Dionysos, whom the prayer of the Elisian women let approach in the shape of a bull together with the Charites. - The junction with powerful fertility deities has later relegate them to the second rank of elementary numina. So it was possible in Athens that Aphrodite together with her Charites epiklesis could adopt the leadership of the trias during the Kurotrophon-duty on the Attic ephebs. This is understandable because of the telluric side of the nature of the great goddess as we have seen so often. From Homer on the Charites - as companions of Aphrodite and together with their mistress - have made the transformation to the embodiment of grace and charm. This was initiated mainly by poetry and myths. The aesthetic and poetic valuation of charis coming from this transformation is expressed by the newer names of Aglaia, Euphrosyne and Thalia. In this function the Homeric Charites fulfill the role of serving, decorating, music making and dancing companions of the Goddess of Love. Their genealogic incorporation into the series of Zeus daughters seems to be too schematic. To put the Homeric Charis at the side of the lame artist Hephaistos - where she later was replaced by Aphrodite, the first of the Charites - was a play with the contrast which was loved by the epos.
History of Art
In Fine Art the Charites appear as companions of the gods, who took part in the wedding ceremonies of Thetis and Peleus ('Francois-Vase', c. 570 BC; Florence, MA). On a late-archaic relief from Thasos (c. 480 BC; Louvre) they appear clothed in front of Hermes. Beginning in the 4th century BC the type of the three nude Charites, embracing each other, became very popular. The one in the midth is shown from back, the other two in varying profiles. According to Seneca their positions refer to the trifold aspect of a gift: donating, accepting, thanking. As most famous example of this type is considered a group of sulptures in the Museo dell'Opera Metropolitana of the cathedral of Siena (Roman copy of an Hellenistc original) and a fresko from the 1st century BC from Pompeji (Neapel, MN). The humanists of the Renaissance have taken up this motiv and have expanded it: They have added a trifold meaning of love - beauty, desire, fulfillment - or a trifold allegory - chastity, beauty, love. In Boticelli's 'Primavera' (1477/78; Uffizi, Florence) the three Graces - here clothed - are dancing as voluptuousness, chastity and beauty a round dance beside Venus. An obvious analogy to the three Graces could be seen in some depictions of the three goddesses at the Judgment of Paris. Because this motiv gave the artists the chance to depict three nude women at once it was so successful. There are four versions from Rubens and five from Boucher. 

I have added the following pics.:
1) A pic of the fresco from Pompeji
2) A cut-out from Botticelli's 'Primavera', showing the three dancing Graces

Der kleine Pauly
Karl Kerenyi, Die Götter- und Menschheitsgeschichten
Aghion/Barbillon/Lissarrague, Lexikon der antiken Götter und Heroen in der Kunst

Best regards

Hi jarhead!

I think there are better threads for your question on this Forum! F.e. this one

Best regards


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