Oct 27, 2016

Gods and Goddesses of Rome

Museo Arqueológico de Sevilla

in the Archaeological Museum of Seville

The Archaeological Museum of Seville has a prestigious collection of Roman artefacts that is famous around the world. This exhibition reveals some of the detail of the rich and complex Roman Olympus.

Mosaic of the Triumph of Bacchus
The scene portrayed in this mosaic is the Triumph of Bacchus (the Greek Dionysus) on returning from his conquest of India. The god, wearing a chlamys (a kind of cloak), is driving a chariot pulled by tigers, with a satyr at his side. Ariadne also appears on the chariot, resting her left hand on Dionysus' shoulder and holding the edge of his cloak, which is falling away to reveal his bare torso, in the other. The heads of both figures are crowned with vine wreaths. The mythical tale recounts that on his return from the East, Dionysus rescued Ariadne from the island of Naxos, where she had been abandoned by Theseus, before marrying her.
Mercury
This sculpture represents the god Hermes, or Mercury, who can be identified by various iconographic symbols such as the caduceus (which is missing), winged feet and the lyre. In his left arm, he should be holding the child Dionysus or Bacchus, of whom a small finger remains, resting on the cloak covering his back. The torso was discovered in 1788 and the right leg in 1901. The lower left leg was modelled in plaster by the sculptor Agustín Sánchez Cid, in 1945. The work appears to be a copy of a classical model from the 4th century B.C.
Venus
This sculpture represents the goddess Aphrodite emerging naked from the sea at the moment of her birth. She is accompanied by a dolphin and bears a colocasia leaf in her left hand. The cloak she is wearing only covers the lower part of her torso, and she should be holding it at the front around her pubis with the right hand, which is missing. In the folds of the cloth are traces of reddish colour.
Mars
Head of the god Mars found in Carmo (Carmona, Seville). It portrays an adult man with an idealized face, wearing a Corinthian helmet like the Athena Parthenos by Phidias, with a beard and an abundance of curly locks. The severed end of the neck indicates that it would have fitted onto the body of a large statue, possibly with a military breast plate.
Diana
This sculpture portrays Diana, goddess of hunting, wearing her usual iconographic symbols: elaborate boots, chiton dress, a cloak, and a diadem. The figure leans against the trunk of a tree covered by a deer skin.
Apollo
One of the best sculptures in the museum, considered a masterpiece for its treatment of the garments and sense of movement in the lower body. The dancer is interpreted as the god Apollo (protector of the arts) moving to the sound of music from a zither.
Hispania
Naked female figure, with idealized features and long straight hair. The face, with its gentle contours, expresses a certain coldness while looking towards her left. This piece, traditionally known as "Hispania" when the head appeared in Mulva in the 1960s, has subsequently been reinterpreted as a nymph getting out of her bath, after the discovery of a torso many years later.
Child Mars
Again, the god of war and guarantor of Roman virtue. This Mars from Écija appears as a naked child (following the Roman tradition of other divinities such as Bacchus and Attis), with cloak over his shoulder, an Attican helmet, a sword, and sandals. He would have been holding a raised standard in his right arm and the orbis terrarum (map of the world) in the left.
Bacchic Altar
This piece forms part of a set of three cylindrical altars with scenes of Maenads and Satyrs dancing in honour of the god Bacchus, from the Itálica theatre (Santiponce, Seville).
Family Spirit
This small figure in a toga is one of the family spirits or hearth gods that were found in the "lararium" in the entrance hall of Roman houses. They represented the spirits of family ancestors, which were responsible for protecting the family home and its inhabitants.
Fortuna
The statue represents the goddess Fortuna with her primary symbols: the cornucopia (missing) and the ship's helm, of which only the handle is preserved on the right side of the figure. It was recovered from inside a well along with a number of sculpture fragments, during construction of Seville's Barzola district at the beginning of the 1970s.
Pedestal of Isis
An image of the Egyptian goddess would have been erected on this pedestal. From the pedestal inscription, we can see that Fabia Fabiana, in memory of her granddaughter Avita, bestowed her jewels (pearls, emeralds, etc.) to "Child Isis", to whom she dedicated this monument. In addition to the inscription, we can also see the embossed figures of the Egyptian gods Osiris, Horus, Apis, Anubis, and Ibis.
Fortuna in the Tower
Found in Itálica, this statue is of the goddess Fortuna, who was protector of the city. Only the head, adorned with a diadem and crowned with an embattled tower, survives. It mirrors a Greek model of Tyche (Fortuna) as a personification of the city, in this case probably Itálica itself. The fortified tower meant it was sometimes identified as the goddess Cybele, protector of cities.
Museo Arqueológico de Sevilla
Credits: Story

Gods and Goddesses of Rome

Organised by:
Museo Arqueológico de Sevilla
Consejería de la Junta de Andalucía

Curated by the Dissemination Department
Photography: Martín García, Guillermo Mendo, José Morón

Museo Arqueológico de Sevilla

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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