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Bronze mirror with Eos and Kephalos in relief

  • Detail of Eros and Kephalos

    Detail of Eros and Kephalos

 

Height: 48.250 cm

GR 1865.7-12.14 (Bronze 303)

Room 73: Greeks in Italy

    Bronze mirror with Eos and Kephalos in relief

    Found at Locri, Italy
    About 300-200 BC

    An elaborate mirror

    Elaborate bronze mirrors were produced in large numbers in Greek Southern Italy. They are characterised by the elaborately ornamented plates between the reflecting disc and the handle and often also by decorative bronze attachments around the disc itself. Most of the mirrors were quite heavy and the handle also served as a stand: occasionally this is in the form of a column or supporting figure (a caryatid) cast in bronze. Alternatively, as here, the handle was made in a different material (ivory, bone or perhaps wood) and attached to the tang or metal spike projecting from the decorative plate. Although there are parallels for stand-mirrors from mainland Greece, it was the South Italian Greeks who were particularly fond of them and developed them as a speciality during the sixth and fifth centuries BC.

    The reflecting side of the disc, which was itself decorated around the edge, would originally have been highly polished to provide a sharp image of the user. Additional details are sometimes picked out in silver, as here. The backs of the mirrors were usually plain or decorated with concentric circles.

    Eos, goddess of the dawn, and her lover Kephalos, whom she had seized while he was out hunting, are shown on the plate of this mirror. Eos had a reputation as a predatory lover, another of her abductions being Tithonos the Trojan prince. Eos and Kephalos had a son usually said to be Phaethon ('shining one').

    L.O. Keene Congdon, The Caryatid mirrors of ancien (Mainz am Rhein, 1981)

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    On display: Room 73: Greeks in Italy

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