Byzantine and Russian icons, £15.99
Height: 140.000 cm
Excavated by Sir Charles Fellows
GR 1848.10-20.81 (Sculpture 909)
Room 17: Nereid Monument
Statue from the Nereid Monument
Lykian, about 390-380 BC
From Xanthos, (modern Günük, south-western Turkey)
One of the daughters of the sea-god Nereus
The daughters of the sea-deities Nereus and Doris are known as Nereids. Numbering between 50 and 100, they were popular figures in Greek literature. They were believed to be personifications of the waves of the ocean, and benign toward humanity. The best known of the Nereids were Amphitrite, consort of Poseidon (a sea and earthquake god); Thetis, wife of Peleus, king of the Myrmidons, and mother of the hero Achilles; and Galatea.
This figure is draped in a fine chiton (tunic), its folds enlivened by the rush of the sea breeze against her. A mantle falls over her left shoulder. She was carried along by a sea bird visible below the hem of her skirt. Her portrayal here is perhaps meant to suggest the means by which the soul of the deceased was transported to the afterlife.
L. Burn, The British Museum book of Gre (London, The British Museum Press, 1991)