Votive relief to the god Mên
2nd century A.D.
Place of Manufacture: Asia Minor
Sculpture in Stone (MFA), no. 288; Sculpture in Stone and Bronze (MFA), p. 113 (additional published references).
Height x width: 32.7 x 37.4 cm (12 7/8 x 14 3/4 in.)
Medium or Technique
Marble from Dokimeion (modern Afyon) in west-central Asia Minor
Not On View
Mên, the moon god of Asia Minor, wears a “Phrygian” cap and a traveller’s costume. A crescent moon appears over his shoulders. He holds a pine cone in his right hand. The head of a sacrificial animal lies beneath the horse’s hoof. This is a vigorous interpretation of the young moon god of classical Asia Minor.
The scene in its panel on the front has been carved from a reused or unfinished architectural element, for there is a splendid set of curved and rectangular moldings on the lower reverse of the carefully finished slab. The relief is in excellent condition, with only slight chipping and some incrustation. The marble has a light yellow patina.
Mên was the most popular of the several rider-gods of Asia Minor, divinities that were the young and old counterparts to and companions of Cybele or some similar, regional or local form of a maternal goddess. He appears on a number of coins struck by cities of western and southwestern Asia Minor in the second and early third centuries A.D. Some bronzes showing him standing with the same attributes (the bovine head under his own foot) are works of good quality, but most reliefs in which his image appears are visual works of little more than rustic significance. The relief shown here has long been recognized as among Mên’s best appearances in Greek and Roman art.
Harvard Lab No. HI764: Isotope ratios - delta13C +1.57 / delta18O -4.30, Attribution - Dokimeion, Justification - White, fine grained marble.
By date unknown: with William H. Allen, 2031 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA. 19103 (said to have been found near Lake Burdur in southwest Phrygia, near the Pisidian border); by date unknown: with Robert E. Hecht, Jr.; November 19, 1969: purchased by MFA from Robert E. Hecht, Jr.
Samuel Putnam Avery Fund