Diameter: 28.000 cm
GR 1897.7-26.7 (Bronze 882)
Room 70: Roman Empire
Bronze handled dish (patera) showing Scylla
Roman, 1st century AD
From Boscoreale on the Bay of Naples, Italy
Ulysses attacked by a sea demon
The centre of the dish has relief decoration showing the sea-demon Scylla attacking the companions of Ulysses (Odysseus). The scene is taken from Homer's Odyssey and shows the moment when Ulysses and his companions negotiated the treacherous Straits of Messina between Italy and Sicily. As they were preoccupied with avoiding the deadly whirlpool Charybdis, they were suddenly attacked by the sea-monster Scylla who slaughtered six of the crew.
Scylla towers above the ship and seizes one crewman, while the dogs that form her lower body savage several others. The eyes of the men and dogs are inlaid with silver, and the handle is now lost. The arrangement of the figures recalls the large marble statue group showing the same scene, found in the grotto of Tiberius at Sperlonga. The British Museum also has parts of a colossal sculptural group representing Scylla, from Bargylia, south-western Turkey.
S. Walker, Roman art (London, 1991)