Height: 15.250 cm
Width: 17.750 cm
Room 20: Greeks and Lycians
Bronze relief with Aphrodite and Anchises
Greek, around 350 BC
Excavated at Paramythia, Epirus, Greece
This decorative relief from a mirror cover shows the goddess Aphrodite and the Trojan Anchises, the parents of Aeneas, reclining on Mount Ida. Aphrodite is accompanied by two winged Erotes or cupids, and Anchises by his dog. Aeneas was the Trojan prince who became the ancestral hero of the Romans: Virgil's poem the Aeneid describes his escape from Troy and eventual settlement in Latium (roughly modern Lazio) in Italy.
Mirror cover reliefs were often of very fine workmanship, the bronze being very thin sheet, which seems to have been shaped by hammering into a former and then the final details worked from the front. Duplicate examples of some types show that the formers were, at least on occasions, used more than once, though there is not enough evidence to indicate mass production. A lead backing prevented the relief from being dented and attached it to the mirror cover. Sometimes details were added in silver, such as the whites of the eyes, hair and Aphrodite's necklace.
This relief, together with a number of bronze statuettes and fragments of large statues, was said to have belonged to a hoard found at Paramythia in north-western Greece, but the bronzes are of different dates and styles and do not form a coherent group.
J. Swaddling, 'The British Museum hoard from Paramythia, north-western Greece: classical trends revived in the 2nd and 18th centuries AD' in Bronzes hellenistiques et roma (Lausanne, Diffusion De Boccard, 1979)
L. Burn, The British Museum book of G-1, revised edition (London, The British Museum Press, 1999)