Height: 4.000 inches
Room 12a: Greece Minoans
Bronze figure of a horse
Greek, Geometric type, probably made in Sparta about 700
Said to be from Phigaleia (Bassae) in Arcadia, Greece
An elegant horse and an epic scene...
Small bronze horses were frequently dedications in the shrines and sanctuaries of Geometric Greece, perhaps indicating the wealth or status of the donor. Those produced in Sparta, which was famous for its bronzes, are stylized in a distinctive way.
There is an interesting intaglio design under the base of this horse, showing a pair of twinned warriors arranged back-to-back. They have been identified as a pair of Siamese twins referred to in the writings of Homer (where it is implied that they are Siamese twins but not stated) and Hesiod. The twins were known as the Aktorione, or sometimes the Molione, and belonged to a time before the Trojan War. Their combat with the young King Nestor of Pylos is mentioned in Homer's Iliad, and they were said to have been killed by the hero Herakles. The twins feature prominently in Geometric art, at a time when the representation of heroic stories was only just beginning. It has been suggested that the Neleids, an Athenian family of the eighth century BC, claimed descent from the heroic kings of Pylos and may therefore have used the twins as a distinctive family crest.
N. Coldstream, Geometric Greece (London, E. Benn, 1977)