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Friday, July 3, 2020

Gifts with subtle messages

The British Museum points out although mirrors, such as these early Greek examples dating to the 4th century BCE, were usually owned by women, they were often a gift from male lovers and often depicted scenes of abduction and male dominance to reflect the subordinate place women held in society.  Here we see Herakles attempting to abduct the nymph Auge from Corinth about 330-300 BCE, an Amazon fighting a bearded Greek from a tomb in Elis, about 350 BCE (some think it may be Dionysos, though, in a short tunic, high boots, and nebris fighting a giant in a Phyrgian helmet), Nike sacrificing a bull from Megara, about 350 BCE, and the abduction of Ganymede.  Three of the four mirrors represent male dominance.  The sacrifice scene celebrates male achievement as the victory represented by Nike may refer to an athletic contest or victorious battle.  The scene also decorated the Temple of Athena Nike at Athens.

I photographed the first three mirrors at the British Museum and the last mirror at the "Bodies Beautiful in Ancient Greece" exhibit assembled by the British Museum.

Herakles attempting to abduct the nymph Auge from Corinth about 330-300 BCE

An Amazon fighting a bearded Greek from a tomb in Elis, about 350 BCE 

Nike sacrificing a bull from Megara, about 350 BCE

Abduction of Ganymede, Etruscan, from Palestrina


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