At the end of the 19th cent. P. Orsi acquired for the Archaeological Museum of Syracuse a group of architectural terracottas said to come from Agrigentum, San Biagio area (on the SE slope of the Rupe Atenea). This lot, left quite unnoticed until now, consists of six antefixes of late 5th-early 3rd cent. B.C. Tarantine types with relief heads of Gorgo-Medusa, Pan, and Artemis Bendis, that can confirm the circulation of these products, known otherwhere in Sicily by a few specimens from Gela excavations and from surface finds. But the most noteworthy piece is a fragmentary clay sima with a lion head spout, dated around 280-70 B.C., that is particularly interesting both for the technique and for the subject of its decoration, depicting in low relief two ephebic Erotes hunting a she-bear in a rocky landscape. On one hand, it allows us to investigate how iconographic schemes and models could be disseminated by means of drawings or sketches, and/or casts or moulds, or some kind of “aides-mémoire”, in graphic or plastic form, and reassembled in new ways by toreuts, potters and coroplasts. As a matter of fact, some compositional devices of the cynegetic scene echo late 4th cent. B.C. pictorial models (notwithstanding the rather rough execution of our relief ); at the same time, we can observe an intended adaptation of some “aulic” or “heroic” motifs to a different content. On the other hand, the oddness of the subject, which seems unparalleled in Greek art, drives us to interpret on a metaphorical, rather than on a literal, level the meaning of the scene, through the well-known nexus of associations between hunting and eros, and between the wild she-bear and the “untamed” parthenos. If we accept such a metaphorical reading, we can argue that the architectural terracottas from San Biagio examined here are thematically linked, suggesting an “initiation” scenario and a general concern about maturation and “domestication” of young people, and shedding some light on their proper cultural and religious context.

Portale, E.C. (2014). Decorazione, illustrazione o metafora? Su un gruppo di terrecotte architettoniche dal sito di S. Biagio ad Agrigento. SICILIA ANTIQVA, XI (2014), 365-390.

Decorazione, illustrazione o metafora? Su un gruppo di terrecotte architettoniche dal sito di S. Biagio ad Agrigento

PORTALE, Elisa Chiara
2014

Abstract

At the end of the 19th cent. P. Orsi acquired for the Archaeological Museum of Syracuse a group of architectural terracottas said to come from Agrigentum, San Biagio area (on the SE slope of the Rupe Atenea). This lot, left quite unnoticed until now, consists of six antefixes of late 5th-early 3rd cent. B.C. Tarantine types with relief heads of Gorgo-Medusa, Pan, and Artemis Bendis, that can confirm the circulation of these products, known otherwhere in Sicily by a few specimens from Gela excavations and from surface finds. But the most noteworthy piece is a fragmentary clay sima with a lion head spout, dated around 280-70 B.C., that is particularly interesting both for the technique and for the subject of its decoration, depicting in low relief two ephebic Erotes hunting a she-bear in a rocky landscape. On one hand, it allows us to investigate how iconographic schemes and models could be disseminated by means of drawings or sketches, and/or casts or moulds, or some kind of “aides-mémoire”, in graphic or plastic form, and reassembled in new ways by toreuts, potters and coroplasts. As a matter of fact, some compositional devices of the cynegetic scene echo late 4th cent. B.C. pictorial models (notwithstanding the rather rough execution of our relief ); at the same time, we can observe an intended adaptation of some “aulic” or “heroic” motifs to a different content. On the other hand, the oddness of the subject, which seems unparalleled in Greek art, drives us to interpret on a metaphorical, rather than on a literal, level the meaning of the scene, through the well-known nexus of associations between hunting and eros, and between the wild she-bear and the “untamed” parthenos. If we accept such a metaphorical reading, we can argue that the architectural terracottas from San Biagio examined here are thematically linked, suggesting an “initiation” scenario and a general concern about maturation and “domestication” of young people, and shedding some light on their proper cultural and religious context.
Settore L-ANT/07 - Archeologia Classica
Portale, E.C. (2014). Decorazione, illustrazione o metafora? Su un gruppo di terrecotte architettoniche dal sito di S. Biagio ad Agrigento. SICILIA ANTIQVA, XI (2014), 365-390.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/10447/96994
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