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Silver figurine of Tutela

 

Height: 14.000 cm

Bequeathed by R. Payne Knight

GR 1824.4-24.1 (Silver 33)

Room 70: Roman Empire

    Silver figurine of Tutela

    Roman, 1st century AD
    From Mâcon, southern France

    A Romanized version of Tyche (Fortune)

    This ornate statuette shows Tutela, a popular deity in southern Gaul. Standing on a twelve-sided, ribbed base, the goddess holds a patera (libation dish) in her right hand and in her left a double cornucopia, with heads of Diana and Apollo. On her head she wears a walled crown, symbolizing her protection of a particular city, perhaps Massilia (Marseilles). Her long wings carry busts of Castor and Pollux (Kastor and Polydeukes), and support a stand on which rest seven busts representing the gods of the days of the week. After Saturn, the eldest of the gods, come Sol (sun), Luna (moon), Mars, Mercury, Jupiter and Venus. Gilding is applied to the patera, the wings and robe of the goddess and the clothing and ornaments of the busts.

    Tutela is a Romanized version of the deity Tyche (Fortune), who originated in the early Hellenistic period (fourth to third centuries BC) as the patron of the many new urban foundations which lacked mythological patrons or founders. The gods of the week were another Hellenistic innovation, brought to the west from Babylon, via Alexandria and other centres in the eastern Mediterranean.

    This statuette, together with seven others which show various deities including Mercury, Jupiter and Venus, are the only surviving elements of a huge hoard of silver which also contained jewellery and 30,000 coins. The hoard was discovered in 1764, during building of a new hospital at Mâcon in south-eastern France.

    S. Walker, Roman art (London, 1991)

    L. Burn, The British Museum book of G-1, revised edition (London, The British Museum Press, 1999)

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