Bronze casket (cista) with an incised scene of Bellerophon and Pegasus


British Museum

British Museum
London, United Kingdom

This bronze casket (cista) was used primarily to hold a lady's toilet articles. It comes from Praeneste, a Latin city approximately thirty-five kilometres south-east of Rome. The objects manufactured in this city were heavily influenced by both the Etruscans and the Greek colonies in Southern Italy. The production of cistae began in the fourth century BC and reached a peak around 300 BC. This example was produced in this period. It is decorated with a scene of Bellerophon holding the winged horse Pegasus by the reins. Bellerophon was a hero from Corinth who performed many deeds with the help of Pegasus, including the killing of the Chimaera. The handle of the cista is cast in the form of a girl holding a perfume bottle, and a young man with oil-flask and scraper (strigil). The feet of the cista are in the form of lion paws surmounted by sphinxes.

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  • Title: Bronze casket (cista) with an incised scene of Bellerophon and Pegasus
  • Date Created: -325/-275
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 34.00cm (cista); Width: 25.00cm (cista); Height: 14.50cm (figures); Width: 11.50cm (figures)
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: cast; engraved
  • Subject: sphinx; classical mythology; mythical figure/creature
  • Registration number: 1884,0614.33
  • Production place: Made in Palestrina
  • Place: Excavated/Findspot Palestrina
  • Period/culture: Etrusco-Latin; Hellenistic Period (Etruscan)
  • Material: bronze
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Purchased from Castellani, Alessandro