Friday, March 02, 2007

Expert Assistance Requested

Readers of this blog know that much of my walking takes place in a magnificent nearby cemetery.

These four statues grace the front of a rather large mausoleum and I need help identifying them. You can probably enlarge them with a click.

The furthest to the left carries a staff around which a snake (s?) entwines itself and seems to be topped off by wings ~ which I believe makes him Hermes to the Greeks, Mercury to the Romans, messenger of the gods The next carries a cornupcopia (Demeter ~ goddess of agriculture?), and the third, a vase. The fourth (to the immediate left), with his scroll, helmet, and thinker's pose, appears to me to be Moses.

Those of you claiming literacy in western classical and Biblical traditions, feel free to weigh in!


Quotidian Grace said...

I agree that two of the statues are Hermes and Demeter.

But I doubt that the last one is Moses. That wouldn't fit with the Greek theme of the other two, plus he has a scroll, not tablets. My guess is Socrates. The woman with the vase is a tough one--I don't know who that is.

Gannet Girl said...

Oh, Socrates -- good guess! I thought Moses and the Greeks made for kind of an odd combination -- but then, why not? Now I'll have to go look at some renditions of Socrates.

Kathryn said...

When Persephone finally arrives in the Underworld, she stands on a rock, with her torch, a vase of her mother's grain, and a large bowl of "pomegranate seeds, the food of the dead."

The Myth of Persephone: Greek Goddess of the Underworld

This might make sense. She is also considered the "Goddess of Spring" in other interpretations.

I'm no expert. I was intrigued and spent some time googling it.

Presbyterian Gal said...

Just guessing on the third - Perhaps Athena holding her wisdom in a vase?

I'm with QG on the last. Not Moses. Struck me as Socrates or Aristotle. I'd go with Socraties because he was first.

Anonymous said...

Question… Is there a frieze at the top of this particular mausoleum? If so, it could give clues in identifying these caryatids/atlantes/pilasters.

I have an art history/architecture background and may be able to help you identify these if you are, indeed, in need of assistance.
J~ (jtuwliens)

Anonymous said...

Photograph #1:

A snake is a symbol of Prudence personified (“Be weary of serpents”, Matt. 10:16), which, in this sense, is an attribute of Minerva, Goddess of Wisdom. However, from looking closely at the photograph and using your description, my guess is the snake is associated with Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine (which is seen as a symbol of rebirth and healing) and the staff you refer to could be a caduceus (Hermes’/Mercury’s staff).

Taking this further… Another possibility is that since Mercury was a teacher of Cupid, the caduceus may stand for Eloquence and Reason, the qualities of a teacher. A caduceus is also an attribute of Peace personified.

With the limited information provided, my guess stands that this is Hermes/Mercury, who is regularly depicted as youthful, graceful, and athletic. Therefore, to solidify my guess, if you look closely at his left foot, there should be wings on his sandal (for swift travel).

Judith (jtuwliens)

Anonymous said...

Photograph #2:

I believe you’re correct on this one. Ceres/Demeter, goddess of agriculture. She holds a large horn of plenty, a cornucopia, which contains an abundance of the earth’s fruits and vegetables. It is believe that power and fertility reside in the horn, and this links it to Autumn. In mythology, Autumn alludes to the idea of seasonal death and regeneration. In Christianity, Autumn references Easter and Christmas.

Kathryn is close… Proserpine/Persephone was Ceres’ daughter and was carried to the underworld by Pluto. Ceres searched everywhere for her daughter and caused the earth to remain barren of crops until her daughter was returned to her. Pluto allowed Proserpine to return for 4 months every year, during which time the earth blossomed again.

Judith (jtuwliens)

Anonymous said...

Photograph #3:

The container… No handles, has a narrow neck, and no lid. This may not be a vase after all (which is a receptacle for liquids), but rather a VESSEL with a different purpose (oils, ashes, manna, etc.).

My first thought was that this could, perhaps, be a funerary urn (the story of Agrippina comes to mind). However, to be a funerary urn, the woman needs to be standing/sitting in a boat and there is nothing suggesting this here.

Then I remembered that vessels are the attribute of Pandora (and of Psyche/Cupid). Briefly, the story is that Pandora (the “all-gifted” or “all giver”) had a vessel that containing various gifts given by the gods. She was sent to earth by Jupiter, and became Epimetheus’ wife. When she opened her box/vessel, all the evils (which now plague man) flew out. All that remained was Hope. There have been parallels drawn between Pandora’s story and the Fall of Man; hence Pandora is oftentimes depicted as the pagan counterpart of Eve.

Judith (jtuwliens)

Anonymous said...

Judith, thank you so much for all the info! I have been googling various combinations of words with "jar" and "vase" in the serach, but had not thought of "vessel." Back to look some more.

How ARE you guys?


Anonymous said...

Doing fabulous here. All is well, excellent in fact! Just living life to the fullest. *big smiles*

(I've been keeping up with you via bloglines.)

About #4... I'm stumped. I'm confident it's not Moses, Socrates, Cicero, or Aristotle. My bet is that it's a Greek god, but he's not fitting the descriptions of Mercury, Jupiter, Hercules, etc. Are there wings on his helmet (could be Perseus), snake on his arm, an eagle? Something? Anything? What am I'm missing?