Ancient Naples

Nereide su pistrice

Nereid riding a pistrice (sea-monster)
Nereide su pistrice

Nereid riding a pistrice (sea-monster)

The marble statue, which can be dated to around the first decades of the first century AD, was found in 1841 in the villa that Publius Vedius Pollio built on the hill called Pausilypon (that frees from troubles), today Posillipo, bequeathed to the emperor in 15 BC on Pollio’s death. It was probably placed in a nymphaeum or inside thermal rooms on the upper terrace of the villa.

The sculptural group portrays a Nereid (a sea nymph, daughter of Nereo) riding a pistrice, a sea-monster with a dragon-shaped head, which is accompanied by a dolphin diving into the water. The Nereid is sitting on the monster, with the legs covered by a drapery blown by the sea breeze. The Nereid is represented according to an iconographic scheme that was fairly well-known especially in wall paintings and particularly successful in the first century AD.

The statue was subjected to restoration works and integrations in some anatomical parts carried out by A. Solari and A. Calì in the middle of the 19th century.

Dioscuri

Dioscuri
Dioscuri

Dioscuri

Both the statues were re-used until the mid-sixteenth century in a house next to the Church of San Paolo Maggiore, built on the temple dedicated to the Dioscuri. With the demolition of the house in 1568, the two statues were placed in niches below those of St. Peter and St. Paul on the façade of the church. In 1972 they were removed and transferred to the Archeological Museum.
The statues, which can be dated to the mid-first century AD (late Tiberian period), probably portray the two Dioscuri (Castor and Pollux). Together they formed a sculpture group made up of the two twins and a couple of horses kept hold by means of reins, according to a scheme used and known in many copies. They were probably part of a fronton where they flanked the personification of Neapolis in the guise of Polis or Tyche.

lastra con iscrizione greca

Slab for celebration of athletic competitions
lastra con iscrizione greca

Slab for celebration of athletic competitions

The marble slab, which was found at via Sant’Anna alle Paludi in Naples in 1865, should be dated to the age of Emperor Marcus Aurelius (161 – 180 AD).
In the upper part is a table, at the sides of which an axe and a palm leaf are portrayed; under the list, is placed a series of five crowns in relief, followed by other twelve arranged in three rows of four. The inscription, found in an area of the town where other evidence related to the names of athletic competition winners was recovered, even if it does not give any indication of the existence of a gymnasium, refers to the victories gained by the wrestler (palaistés) Marcus Aurelius Ermagora of Magnesia al Sipilo.
The inscription, which mentions victories won in several places, reminds the possibility for an athlete of taking part in competitions not only in Italy but also in Greece or Asia Minor.

Diadumenos

Diadumenos

Diadumenos

Diadumenos

The sculpture, which can be dated to around the mid-first century AD (Claudian Age), was found in Naples, in the area of Castel Capuano, during the works of consolidation of the law court, around the first decade of the 20th century.

The headless sculpture represents a male figure (a deity or a hero or an athlete) in the act of tying the band of victory around his head.
It is one of the best Roman copies of the famous bronze type created around the third quarter of the fifth century BC by Polykleitos of Argos, known through other copies such as those coming from Delos and Vaison and preserved respectively in Athens and in Paris.

Mitra Tauroctono

Mithra tauroctonos
Mitra Tauroctono

Mithra tauroctonos

The statue, which dates back to the end of the third and the beginning of the fourth century AD, comes from the Neapolitan Crypta.

The sculpture portrays Mithra in the act of killing a bull. The god presses his left knee against the back of the animal, while he is holding its snout with his left hand and is driving a dagger into its chest with his right hand. A snake is licking the wound of the bull, the tail of which is transformed into ears of wheat; under the bull, a small dog is standing up on its hind paws and leaning against the chest of the victim, while a scorpion is biting the testicles of the animal. The dedicatory inscription reminds that some people of senatorial rank joined Mithraism: “Appius Claudius Tarronius Dexter, a very eminent man, dedicates to the almighty god Mithra”. The bas-relief, together with the plaster decoration of the Baths of Vico Carminiello ai Mannesi and the relief with Mithra of Neapolitan origin now in Brussels, represents an important testimony of the success in Naples of this mystery cult of Persian origin.

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