Rectangular prism seal with four figures

Italic
Hellenistic Period
mid 1st century B.C.


Dimensions

Length: 12 mm (1/2 in.)

Accession Number

95.82

Medium or Technique

Carnelian

Not On View

Collections

The Ancient World

Classifications

Seals

Intaglio. Pierced for hanging (vertical). Side 1: Young Herakles walking left on a ground line; seen in three-quarter view from the back. He holds a bull upside down, over his right shoulder and places his left hand on the bull’s shoulder for additional support. The bull’s tail hangs down along Herakles’ back; its head is pointed downward in front of Herakles. Two animal paws visible between Herakles’ legs, and bristles along his back, indicate the presence of a lion skin. Side 2: Bearded warrior, naked, stands on a ground line facing right. He wears a crested helmet, and leans on a spear that he holds in his left hand. He holds his right arm at his side, on which he wears a round shield. Archaizing musculature - very segmented torso muscles; three ribs visible under the arm. Side 3: Warrior, unbearded, walking on a ground line to the left on his tip-toes. He carries a spear in his left hand, and a trophy over his right shoulder. He wears a crested helmet and a belt/waistband that flutters out at his hips. Side 4: Lykourgos, bearded and with long hair, facing right; grasping a grapevine before him with his right hand. The vine extends up the side of the gem and over Lykourgos’ head. He rests a double-headed axe on his left shoulder. Lykourgos steps forward with his right leg, and wears a cloak that flies out behind him and is also draped over his right arm. In mythology, Lykourgos was a king who attacked Dionysos, the god of wine, and banned his cult.

Provenance

According to Warren's records: by date unknown: Howel Wills Collection, Florence; sold at Christie's, February, 1894; purchased at the Wills auction by Edward Perry Warren; 1895: purchased by MFA from Edward Perry Warren for $ 29,857.37 (this figure is the total price for MFA 95.9-95.174)

Credit Line

Catharine Page Perkins Fund