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Silver medallion with Aphrodite seated on a rock


Diameter: 9.300 cm

GR 1853.3-14.1 (Silver 71)

Room 73: Greeks in Italy

    Silver medallion with Aphrodite seated on a rock

    Made and found at Taranto, southern Italy
    About 300-200 BC

    Waiting on Aphrodite

    This silver medallion may have originally ornamented a bowl. It shows the goddess Aphrodite taking something offered to her by a girl attendant. The girl is standing on a pedestal and seems to have either leaves or a piece of cloth in her hands. Aphrodite, goddess of beauty, sits languidly, half-draped, on a rock decorated with flowers, and turns to look at Eros, usually shown as her attendant, but here playfully putting an upturned basket on his head.

    The figures are hammered up from the back of the disc by the repoussé technique. The ornaments in the background and below are incised into the metal, with details picked out by gilding. On the left is a long-handled, heart-shaped fan, and in the background a flower and a butterfly with half-folded wings. Below are musical instruments, a set of pipes on the left and a lyre to the right, with a bird and grass-hopper (cicada) between, each with a star or flower.

    A. Oliver, Silver for the gods: 800 years (Toledo Museum of Art, 1977)

    D.E. Strong, Greek and Roman gold and silve (London, Methuen, 1966)