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Persephone’s Rape at Uffizi- I

4 August 2019 One Comment

The myth of Persephone has a great importance in the Roman funerary tradition. It is encountered very often in epigraphs, urns, altars and, of course, sarcophagi, where the sudden and untimely death of a woman is assimilated by her relatives to Persephone’s abduction by Hades. The sarcophagi decorated with scenes taken from the myth of Persephone are, at present, about ninety. After the sarcophagi decorated with Dionysiac themes, they form an iconographic group among the most numerous.

The Sarcophagus
In the central part of the relief, the powerful Hades grabs and drags on his chariot the goddess Persephone, surprised and abducted while she was picking wildflowers with other maiden goddesses. The basket containing the collected flowers is near her feet. The Earth mother goddess, “Tellus”, is carved under the horses drawing Hades’ chariot; she holds a cornucopia and raises her right arm with a fright gesture. The young man with caduceus and winged helmet is Hermes, the god messenger and the guide of souls toward the Underworld, who, grabbing the horses by bridles, drives the chariot toward Hades. A cupid holding a torch is suspended in the air above the arms of Persephone. This presence suggests that the abduction of the goddess is an act of love supported by Aphrodite. The torch held by Eros is the symbol of Hymen, the god of the wedding, and its presence can also allude to a wedding ceremony. To the left of Hades, the artist introduces the quarrel between Athena and Aphrodite. While Athena, armed with shield, spear and helmet, is trying to prevent the rape of the goddess, Aphrodite, behind her, favors the escape of Hades by holding with her hand the shield of Athena. On the left side, Demeter is searching for her daughter abducted by Hades. She is standing on a chariot drawn by snakes holding a torch with her left hand. Behind Aphrodite, in the background, two young girls frightened by the abduction of their girlfriend.
On the corners two winged standing Horai, goddesses of the seasons, frame the bas-relief.
The hair of the female figures, carved with extensive use of drill, are reminiscent of the hairstyles in fashion at Faustina the Younger times; they allow to date the work at some time between 160 – 180 AD.

Source Guido Mansuelli, “Gallerie degli Uffizi – Le Sculture”

Pantelic marble sarcophagus
(Length 210 cm; height 75 cm); width 63 cm)
Approx. 160-180 AD
Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi

One Comment »

  • Magdeburg said:


    ? ? Fotos im Museum ? ?
    (POST 1 AWARD 2)