Collection online


  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Marble bearded head of a companion of Ulysses, probably from a group showing Ulysses and companions blinding Polyphemus. The bust, nose and lips are modern.

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 100-150 (circa)
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 74 centimetres
  • Curator's comments

    Roman copy of a Hellenistic original of about 200BC.Opper 2008

    Saflund (1972); Raedear (1983), p. 40.Cook 2013, nr. 61:
    Townley's description; ‘A head, the size of large life, with an heroic countenance, expressing great agitation of mind, which with the violent twist of the neck, and the eager cast upwards of the face, might suit the character and situations of a Diomedes, or an Ajax, but tho’ it is uncertain what the subject was of the Statue, to which this head belonged, it certainly must have been in great action, exceeding perhaps that of the Gladiator or the Laocoon. the sculpture of this head is equal to any remains of ancient art. it was found along with a few small pieces of the statue by Mr Gavin Hamilton in the Pantanella before mentioned’ (The first Townley inventory, Heads 19).

    Several mythological identifications for this head were proposed by Townley:
    - Titan: ‘the character of this head is suitable to that of the Titan in groupes of Minerva, fighting with those fictitious beings’ (1804 Parlour Catalogue, park drawing room 38}
    - ‘Head of a Homeric hero’: In ‘Companion of Ulysses’ (TY 14/5/13), he hit the mark, as shown by the discovery of a duplicate in the cave of Tiberius at Sperlonga.
    - On Townley drawing 2010,5006.215, the bust is marked ‘Diomedes’.

    Excavated by Gavin Hamilton in the Pantanella at Hadrian’s villa, probably in 1769 as Townley reports in (TY 10/8), although he gives the date as 1770 in TY 10/3 (fo. 18) and Bodleian Ms Add D 71 (fo. 200), and as 1771 in ST 2 and TY 12/19/1.
    Acquired from Jenkins in part exchange on 18 February 1772 (TY 8/74/1), the price given as £200 in TY 10/3 (fo. 18), TY 10/5-7, and ST 1 (fo. 15r).

    * Townley drawings: 2010,5006.196, attributed ‘possibly’ to Pacetti [I. D. Jenkins]; 2010,5006.215); 2010,5006.215; 2010,5006.118, annotated ‘Angeletti del:’ in ink and ‘Angeletti’ in pencil (cf. payment on 15 April 1772 recorded in ST 1, fo. 24r); and 2010,5006.119, annotated ‘Brown delt.’ in ink (although this attribution has been denied by I. D. Jenkins). There is also a drawing in the Townley Archive (TY 14/3/7).
    * Zoffany: B. F. Cook, `The Townley Marbles in Westminster and Bloomsbury', The British Museum Yearbook, 2 (1977), 36-37, figs. 19-20, no. 31b.

    Hellenistic 240-200 (Lipold); original late 3rd century BC (Himmelmann); Roman, probably copy of Hellenistic original (Burn); ‘It is astonishingly close in style and detail to the Sperlonga head, and shows that both are highly accurate copies of a common model’ (R. Smith 111).

    - Synopsis of the Contents of the British Museum (1808) III.23.
    - Ancient Marbles of the British Museum, II, pl. 23.
    - A Guide to the Graeco-Roman Sculptures in the Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities (Synopsis of the Contents of the British Museum) (2 vols., London 1874 [2nd ed. 1879] and 1876), I, no. 139.
    - Hermann Winnefeld, Die Villa des Hadrien bei Tivoli (JdI Ergänzungsheft III, Berlin 1895), 158.
    - A. H. Smith, A Catalogue of Sculpture in the Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities, British Museum, Vol. III (London 1904), 144-5, no. 1860.
    - P. R. von Bienkowski, Die Darstellungen der Gallier in der hellenistischen Kunst (Vienna 1908), 19, fig. 25; 20, no. 10.
    - A. J. B. Wace, 'Hellenistic Royal Portraits', Journal of Hellenic Studies 25 (1905), 88, no. 1.
    - G. Lippold, Die griechische Plastik (Handbuch der Archäologie III.1, Munich 1950), 342, note 8, pl. 114.4.
    - Bernard Andreae, ‘Die römischen Repliken der mythologischen Skulpturengruppen von Sperlonga’, Antike Plastik 14 (1974), 66, no. 1.2.3 14, Abb. 3-12, pls.55-58.
    - R. R. R. Smith, Hellenistic Sculpture (London 1991), 110-1, and fig. 146.4.
    - N. Himmelmann, ‘Laokoon’, Antike Kunst 34 (1991), 103, note 52, pl. 13, 1, 3.
    - B. F. Cook, The Townley Marbles (London 1985), 15-6, fig. 10.
    - Timothy Potts, Civilization: Ancient Treasures from the British Museum (Exhibition Catalogue, Canberra/Melbourne 1990), 166-7, no. 86.
    - J. Raeder, Die statuarische Ausstattung der Villa Hadriana bei Tivoli (Frankfurt 1983), 40, no. I 12, pl. 12.
    - Nikolaus Himmelmann, Sperlonga. Die homerischen Gruppen und ihre Bildquellen (Nordrhein-Westfälische Akademie der Wissenschaften Vorträge G 340, Opladen 1995), 44, pl. 7a (from a cast).
    - Lucilla Burn, Hellenistic Art (London 2004), 173, fig. 99.


  • Bibliography

    • Opper 2008 121 bibliographic details
    • Sculpture 1860 bibliographic details
  • Location

    On display: G22

  • Exhibition history


    1990, 24 Mar-10 Jun, Australia, Canberra, National Gallery of Australia, Civilization: Ancient Treasures from the British Museum, cat. no.86
    1990, 28 Jun-23 Sep, Australia, Melbourne, Museum of Victoria, Civilization: Ancient Treasures from the British Museum, cat. no.86
    2008, 24 Jul-26 Aug, London, BM, 'Hadrian: Empire and Conflict'

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Greek & Roman Antiquities

  • Registration number



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