Drinker of blood, devourer of hearts, carnivore... these are but three epithets given to Hekate, the goddess of the underworld. This sculpture, in which she is represented in triple form, is a Roman copy of an original from the hand of the Greek sculptor Alkamenes dating from around 420 B.C. On their heads, the three female figures were wearing the kalathos, the grain-measure, a reference both to the underworld and to the fertile soil from which grain shoots up.
Torches, serpents, daggers and keys were other emblems Hekate was depicted with. Hekate had the power to make souls return to earth, where theymanifested themselves as tormentors who brought on nightmares. They were considered to cause epilepsy andmadness. Hekate walked at night, assaulting victims whom she sucked dry like a vampire. She was also able to take on the shape of a black dog.
Sculptures were devoted to Hekate to propitiate her, in order that she would offer protection. This Roman copy shows the group leaning against a column, two figures holding their left hand before their chest, a pomegranate held between thumb and index finger. Originally, they held a torch in their right hand, the third woman holding a torch in both hands. They are wearing a polos, a low head-covering goddesses were often depicted with.