Scaraboid with Bellerophon riding Pegasos and attacking the Chimaera

Greek
Classical Period
400–375 B.C.


Dimensions

Length: 24 x 20.83 mm (15/16 x 13/16 in.)

Accession Number

64.142

Medium or Technique

Chalcedony

Not On View

Collections

Jewelry, The Ancient World

Classifications

Scarabs and scaraboids

Pale gray chalcedony with white discolorations, particularly around the edges, and some brown-tinged veins of color on the sides. Scaraboid with high dome and with intaglio on flat face. Bellerophon, riding Pegasos, prepares to attack the Chimaera. He and Pegasos face right and engage the Chimaera, which is turned towards its assailant. The hero is mostly obstructed from view by Pegasos’ large wing, but his head, neck, and upper arm are visible, as well as his feet. He wears a petasos, a type of sun hat with a broad, floppy brim, and grasps a lance in his hand, which he aims at the Chimaera. The figure of Pegasos is subtly modeled, with the sense of the musculature of the buttocks and the facial structure well conveyed. His wing is covered in long feathers. His mane is not visible, but his tail is, which flies out horizontally. The Chimaera is situated beneath Pegasos’ forelegs. It does not appear as its usual, triple-bodied form of lion, snake, and goat, but rather resembles a small mountain lion. It is possible that the round knob at the tip of its tail is meant to suggest the snake’s head, but it just as likely may represent the tuft of the tail. The scaraboid is pierced horizontally for mounting or suspension.

Provenance

One of a group of gems purchased in Greece or Asia Minor in 1963 by Cornelius C. Vermeule III on behalf of MFA with funds approved in advance by the Trustees; accessioned March 11, 1964

Credit Line

Theodora Wilbour Fund in memory of Zoë Wilbour