Harpocrates Pendant


Rijksmuseum van Oudheden

Rijksmuseum van Oudheden

During the reign of the Roman emperors all kinds of religious elements melted together, as is clearly apparent from this amulet of the child god Harpocrates. Originally,Harpocrates is an Egyptian god: ‘Horus the Child’, son of Isis, the wife of Serapis/Osiris. On this amulet he is leaning against a tree-trunk in the contrapposto posture and it features a whole series of references to the Egyptian, Greek and Roman realms of the gods.
Beside him we see a falcon and a little dog, and a serpent is winding its way around the tree-trunk. He has a panther skin over his shoulder and is wearing a quiver between the wings on his back, like the one we know is always worn by Eros, son of Aphrodite, whom the Greeks equated to Isis. His left arm is supporting the cornucopia. For adornment he is wearing a bulla (amulet in which protective herbs were kept).
The representation is chockful of symbolism: the quiver referring to Apollo, the snake to the healing powers of Asklepios, the Horus falcon and the dog referring to Anubis. The panther skin is connected to the god Dionysos/Bacchus. Yet the whole representation remains a mystery. According to the Greek writer Plutarch, the finger Harpocrates is putting across his lips referred to the impenetrability of the divine secrets.

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  • Title: Harpocrates Pendant
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: 0001/0100
  • Location: Italië?
  • Physical Dimensions: h3.2 cm
  • Datering: 0-100
  • Afmetingen: hoogte: 3,2 cm
  • Type: amulet
  • External Link: Rijksmuseum van Oudheden
  • Medium: metal ; gold