ARCHEOLOGICAL MUSEUM, Aphrodite With Pan And Eros Room 30

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English / USA Language: English / USA

Aphrodite with Pan and Eros, sculpted around 100 BC, is a very different work from the others, not in terms of technique or material, but in how the subjects are represented. This marble group includes three mythical creatures: Aphrodite, the goddess of love; Pan, a deity of the wild, half-man and half-goat, and Eros, the god of physical love and desire, represented as a winged boy.

In this playful little scene, it’s difficult to recognize the sense of tragedy and sacredness that has characterized all the works you’ve seen up to now. Aphrodite is getting ready to bathe, and has even put her hair up in a band to keep them from getting wet. Pan suddenly approaches and starts annoying her, while Eros shoos him away, laughing as he takes him by the horn.

Pan has animal-like features, with a flat nose and pointed ears, and has the legs of a goat. His robust arm is taking hold of the goddess, trying to repulse the hand with which she is attempting – with scant conviction – to cover her nakedness. Rather than a goddess from Mount Olympus, this Aphrodite looks more like a beautiful and earthly woman: calm, relaxed and entirely unruffled by Pan’s clumsy intentions, rejecting his advances with a smile, threatening him light-heartedly with a sandal.

The artist’s intention was to playfully highlight the superior beauty of the youthful female body and the primitive sexual desire of the wild creature.

A work like this shows us how art during this period was interested in a different world, far removed from the sublime concentration of the earlier works, but more entertaining, and above all, more human.

The marble sculpture group was found in a house in Delos. You can still see some traces of color on the statues.


An interesting fact: some 200 years after this work was sculpted, the famous writer Plutarch claimed that Pan was dead. Perhaps what he was referring to was the end of portraying the world through the Gods of Mount Olympus, which had hitherto been the common thread of Greek artworks. He was mistaken, as you know, because these classical themes have remained popular for centuries…

Our visit to the Archeological Museum ends here. MyWoWo would like to thank you - see you again at another Wonder of the World!


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