Pelike with Eros Chasing a Fawn in the Blanton Museum

I. Artist: The sculptor of this particular Pelike is unknown to historians. The one piece of information that is known is that the artist is believed to be from the Gnathia region of Southern Italy. However, a remarkably similar piece of pottery is held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. This piece is from a slightly later time range around late fourth century B.C. Though its specific sculpture is also unknown, it comes from a similar region of Italy and is attributed to the Group of Bologna 585, a sector of sculptures in Northern Italy whose pieces carry distinguishing features (Eros). Similarly, the artist of this Pelike is believed to be from the Gnathia region of Southern Italy.

II. Date: This piece of art is dated around 360-300 B.C.

III. Location on Campus: The Pelike jar is located in the Blanton Museum of art on the second floor in the Greco-Roman art exhibit.

IV. Acquisition: This object was placed on UT’s campus in the Blanton Museum in 1988 as a part of the Archer M Huntington Museum Fund. After originally providing the University with the Diana of Chase statue, Mr. Huntington became infatuated with providing an art venue for the University of Texas and its students. He gave a gift of around $145,000 to start a fund for the cultivation of art around campus. This gift ultimately laid the foundation for the Art Building where the Archer M. Huntington Gallery was originally housed (“A Vision”). As an eventual addition to this collection through the Huntington fund, the Pelike of Eros chasing a fawn is not the grandest piece of the collection or most recognizable, but it demonstrates the ever present impact of love and desire on innumerable myths to the student audience. Though primarily known because of the great love story of Eros and Psyche, simply depicting Eros with a fawn simplifies and broadens the scope of the Olympians’ impact and possible interpretations.

V. Description: This Pelike Jar is simply titled “Pelike (Jar)”. It is a piece of ceramic pottery, fired black, detailed with white characters, and completed with terracotta as a medium and support. The white figures on the Pelike portray the winged somewhat effeminate god Eros chasing a fawn. There is a plant etched behind Eros and a curvy design above the fawn. White patterns encapsulate the scene on the top and bottom. Use of white, red, and yellow coloring on the piece was common for this type of ornate pottery.

In order to truly understand this piece of art, one must understand the cultural context
surrounding Eros. Two separate figures of Eros were prominent in Greek culture. One version was the primeval god who came forth form Gaia. This form of Eros represented desire and attraction, but not in a physical sense (Brettenburger). Rather, it bonded together various elements of the universe in order to spur creation, development and creativity. The other version of Eros is the son of Aphrodite. He is often depicted as a young winged man whose sphere of activity is physical attraction with respect to lust and sexual love. This version of Eros is often seen as a companion of Aphrodite, aiding her in conveying lust and sexual desire upon unsuspecting mortal and immortal victims (EROS).

The winged and youthful appearance of Eros on this Pelike makes clear that he is
representative of the later version of Eros. Though this piece of pottery is believed to be crafted right in the middle of the age of Hesiod, who yielded the former interpretation of Eros and the works of Ovid who made popular the secondary view of Eros, it can clearly be determined that he is representative of this sexual love associated with later verisons of Eros. The great power of Eros to attract lovers is made evident in a scene from the Metamorphoses. When one of Eros’ arrows simply scratched Aphrodite , “She became enraptured by the beauty of a man” (Ovid, Metamorphoses 10. 525 ff). Eros has incredible power and influence over gods and mortals alike to influence their loves and effections. This is especially important in interpreting this Pelike because of the fawn Eros is chasing after. Rather than a mythological half goat-half human. This fawn is an actual young deer, often associated with young women. Deer in general are found to be associated with Artemis, who was believed to protect and defend these wild creatures (Hughes). Artemis association with virginity and purity can also be associated with these creatures. This makes Eros’ pursuit of the creature especially intriguing given that he is known as
a figure that, “smites maids’ breasts with unknown heat, and bids the very gods leave heaven and dwell on earth in borrowed forms.” (Seneca, Phaedra 290 ff). Eros great power to manipulate sexual desires coupled with the relative innocence of the young fawn show that this Pelike is meant to warn young Greeks and their guardians about the dangers of Eros. This type of controlling and manipulating lust is always lurking and ready to capture the heart of any unsuspecting victim. This piece can be understood as a warning for Greeks to stay alert and ready in case they are stricken by an attack of eros, because gods and mortals alike know of his great power and influence. But also, it can be seen as a testament to Eros’ great power, as seen by his gigantic size compared to the young fawn and its seemingly helpless flight from this great god. Though he is not depicted as the strongest amongst the gods, Eros incredible ability to influence desires and passions is unmatched and must be heeded by viewers.

Works Cited
“A Vision Grows into One of the Finest Art Collections on Any U.S. Campus.” UTIMCO, 2010.

Breitenberger, Barbara. Aphrodite and Eros the Development of Greek Erotic Mythology.
Florence: Taylor and Francis, 2013.

“Eros.” EROS – Greek God of Love (Roman Cupid, Amor). Theoi. Accessed April 29, 2022.

Hughes, J. Donald. “Artemis: Goddess of Conservation.” University of Chicago Press, October 1, 1990.

Mayer, Roland. Seneca: Phaedra. London: Duckworth, 2004.
Ovid. Metamorphosis. Londini, 1678.

“Pelike (Jar). Blanton Museum of Art Collections.” Omeka RSS.

By Benjamin Martin Spangler

Saturn Devouring His Chicken

Nihal Tangeda sent me this humorous photo of Saturn devouring some KFC. The image comes from famous Goya’s painting Francisco Goya’s Saturn Devouring His Child, which is based on the Greek myth of Cronus eating his children, as told in Hesiod’s Theogony. Goya’s paining is perhaps the most shocking image of the brutality of Saturn’s cannibalism. This painting is part of his so-called ‘Black Paintings’, which were painted on the walls of Quinta del Sordo. The Quinta del Sordo was a house Goya lived in during a dark period in his life (1819-1823), a time when he sought to escape the world around him. Unlike his other paintings, the Black Paintings were never meant for the public. The transference of Goya’s Saturn Devouring His Child to canvas led to it becoming one of the most well-recognized paintings in the Prado Museum in Madrid.

Sirens in the MET

Maria Buendia sent me this photo of her trip to the MET this Summer. She took this picture of her and a Greek terracotta statuette of Siren (c. 500-550 BC). In early Greek art, Sirens are depicted as mischwesen (mixed-creatures) that had the head of woman and the body of a bird. Over time, they became more anthropomorphic in artwork, being depicted as female figures with bird legs and wings. In Greek literature, most notably the Odyssey and Argonautica, they are dangerous female monsters that lived near the seashores, luring sailors to their their death through their music/song. As to their shape, the origins of the feminine nature of the Sirens could be based on the Greeks’ personification of the coastline as a deceptive female with the irresistible power to draw sailors to their destruction. Perhaps the bird form of these monsters represents the seabirds that sailors listened to and looked for when determining if they were approach land.



The Farnese Hercules at UT’s Stark Center

I. Artist: The Farnese Hercules is credited to be carved by a sculptor named Glycon of Athens. Although there is no mention of Glycon in ancient writing, it is believed that he lived in the period between Lysippus and the early Roman emperors. Lysippus is credited to creating the Heracles of Sicyon, a bronze statue that art historians believe to be the
inspiration for Glycon’s Farnese Hercules. The name of the artist is carved into the main
support of the statue, and the inclusion of the Omega in Glycon’s name, a feature not
used in inscriptions until shortly before the Christian era, solidifies the time period
Glycon might have lived.

II. Date: The original Farnese Hercules was created in the 3rd century AD. The replicated statue displayed at the H.J Lutcher Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sports was created sometime between 2007 and 2009. According to the Stark Center’s webpage, “the Stark Center’s Farnese Hercules was made from a mold taken from the original Farnese Hercules at the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples, Italy in approximately 1900.”

III. Location: A copy of Glycon’s Farnese Hercules is currently on display at the entrance of the H.J Lutcher Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sports located in the Darrel K. Royal Texas Memorial Stadium on the University of Texas campus.

IV. Acquisition: The Stark Center Directors, Drs. Jan and Terry Todd, both admirers of Glycon’s sculpture, adopted the symbol of Hercules to emphasize their emblem of strength, determination, and commitment. With knowledge that the Royal Museum for Art and History in Belgium was capable of casting replicas of the Farnese Hercules, the directors commissioned for a statue to be copied for the Stark Center. The Stark Center’s Farnese Hercules was molded from the original Glycon sculpture, now located at the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples, Italy. In June of 2009, the replica was shipped in four large crates, and in August 2009, Hercules was assembled and installed in the Stark
Center by two artists from the Atelier. The Stark Center contains a library, archives, and
museum dedicated to the study of physical culture and sports. In the context of the
athletic world, literature on strength training and sports, and awards for Longhorn and
Olympic victories, the Farnese Hercules is a symbol for the modern athlete. According to
Terry Todd, the Farnese Hercules is at the Stark Center to serve as a reminder of the
importance of physical culture in human culture. At the Stark Center, the Farnese can be
perceived as the physique modern athletes and people can achieve.

V. Description: The Farnese Hercules carved by Glycon of Athens is a ten and half foot marble statue. Since the replica displayed at the Stark Center is molded from the original statue, the replica is of the same stature as the original. The statue portrays a tired Hercules leaning on his club. The skin of the Nemean Lion is draped over the club, signifying that the Greek hero is resting. Other indications of Hercules’ weariness is his downward gaze and relaxed left hand. In his right hand, mysteriously held behind his back, are the Golden Apples of Hesperides. This inclusion in the sculpture, along with the state the hero is portrayed to be in, signifies Hercules has just completed his eleventh labor.

The classical mythological elements included in this statue are the Nemean Lion skin, the
club, and most significantly the Golden Apples of Hesperides. According to myth,
Hercules had to serve King Eurystheus as a way of purifying himself. For his first labor,
Hercules was sent to kill the Nemean lion, a monster with impenetrable skin. Hercules
succeeded by choking out the beast. (Apollodorus, Library, 34). After his success, the
skin animal can be seen as worn armor for the hero. Eurystheus assigned the Hercules ten
labors, but he added two more after being unsatisfied with Hercules’ completion of two
prior labors. For his eleventh labor, the king ordered Hercules to obtain the Golden
Apples of Hesperides from Mount Atlas in the land of the Hyperboreans. This location
was practically unknown and a great trek for any mortal man. The Apples were a
wedding gift for Hera from Gaia, and in addition to being at the western edge of the
world, the Golden Apples were guarded by an immortal serpent with one hundred heads
and the Hesperides. Hercules travelled far, coming across other challenges on his journey,
to reach the Golden Apples. Before reaching his destination, Hercules was advised by
Promthesues, after saving him from his eternal punishment, to send Atlas, the god
holding up the sky, to obtain the apples for him. To do this Hercules offered Atlas he’d
hold the sky in return. However, after retrieving the Apples, Atlas plotted to leave
Hercules in his place. With quick thinking, Hercules tricked Atlas into holding up the sky
again and leaving with the Apples. Other myths say Hercules himself retrieved the
Apples from the serpent (Apollodorus, Library, 39-40). However the myth of Hercules’
eleventh labor is expressed, it is evident that he travelled far and faced adversities on his
journey to the Hesperides. This weariness is therefore accurately portrayed in the statue
carved by Glycon. The Farnese Hercules clearly holds a mythological context with its
presence. The posture of the hero and the inclusions of elements from the twelve labors
support how Glycon’s statue is an artwork that tells a story about enormous burden. From
a real world perspective, The Farnese Hercules holds a symbol of athleticism, strength,
and physical health. The original Farnese Hercules was discovered in the ruins of the
Baths of Caracalla in 1546, and it is believed that the statue served as one of the many
artworks that decorated the public baths in Rome. In Ancient Roman culture, public baths
were symbols of community and health. These baths were connected to gymnasiums and
included libraries containing Greek and Roman literature. In essence, the Roman baths
were places where one could better themselves mentally and physically. It’s no surprise
that a statue of Hercules was most likely commissioned to be made as decor for these
baths since Hercules can be perceived as a symbol of physical health, athleticism, and
strength of mind and body, all attributes the Roman baths, and gymnasiums connected,
centralized. Overall the symbolic meaning of the Farnese Hercules can be a combination
from its mythological context and original location in Rome. The mythological aspect of
the statue depicts a hero who has gone to extreme lengths to finish his task, embodying a
sense of accomplishment at the expense of physical strain. In a way this interpretation
can also be translated into modern symbolism of Hercules as an embodiment of human
body physical achievement and athleticism. For the modern human, achieving a physique
like Hercules is an accomplishment that comes at the expense of physical strain.
Similarly, athletes accomplish their victories at the expense of many sacrifices. These
interpretations of the Farnese Hercules support why Drs. Jan and Terry Todd wanted a
replica of the statue at Stark Center, an area for athletic achievement and overall physical
health accomplishment.


Theoi Classical Texts Library. Accessed May 1, 2021.

“A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology William Smith, Ed.” A
Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, Gabaeus, Glaucon, Glycon.
Accessed May 1, 2021.

Dr. Beth Harris and Dr. Steven Zucker, Dr. Beth Harris, and Dr. Steven Zucker. “Lysippos,
Farnese Hercules.” Smarthistory. Accessed May 1, 2021.

“The Farnese Hercules.” H.J. Lutcher Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sports.
Accessed May 1, 2021.

“Rome, Baths of Caracalla.” Livius. Accessed May 1, 2021.

Trzaskoma, Stephen M., R. Scott Smith, Stephen Brunet, and Thomas G. Palaima.
Anthology of Classical Myth: Primary Sources in Translation, n.d.

“Visitors.” H.J. Lutcher Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sports, February 12, 2020.

Vermeule, Cornelius. “The Weary Herakles of Lysippos.” American Journal of
Archaeology 79, no. 4 (1975): 323-32. Accessed May 1, 2021. doi:10.2307/503065.

Author: Michael Anthony

UT student’s photo of Centaur and Eros statue in the Louvre

One of my former students sent me some pictures of the mythological artwork that she encountered on her visit to the Musée du Louvre in Paris. This marble statue of Eros (Roman Cupid) and a Centaur is one of pieces of Greco-Roman artwork that caught her attention. This famous  statue is believed to be a 2nd-century-AD, Roman copy of Greek statue by a sculptor of Aphrodisias. It is a good example of a piece of Greco-Roman artwork for which there is no myth in Greek and Latin literature that we can used to interpret this statue. Therefore, it is unclear as to why the centaur’s hands appear to be tied behind his back, and more interestingly, why is Eros teasing this centaur in the first place.

Zeus Ammon at the Met

A quick thanks to one of my former students for sending me this personal photo of a 2nd-century-AD marble head of Zeus Ammon that was on display at The Met. It’s a great visual example of the syncretism that occurred in Hellenistic cultures. If you look closely, you can see part of the ram horns of the Egyptian god Amun (Greek Ammon) on the head of Zeus. Now if we could only find a Zeus with longhorns on him, we could really be confident that “what starts here changes the world”.

Hermes Medallion


I. Artist: Paul Philippe Cret was the designer for the University of Texas at Austin Union building, which is home to the Hermes Medallion we will discuss today. Born in 1876, Paul Cret was an architect hired by UT Austin to consult on the master plan campus designs from 1930 until he passed away in 1945. Cret earned his place on the UT staff with an architectural degree from the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris and a specialization in designing public buildings. After graduating, Cret continued to build a reputation for himself as a designer by becoming a tenured design professor at the University of Pennsylvania, and even started his own firm in Philadelphia that was responsible for impressive projects such as the Indianapolis Public Library (1914-1917) and the Delaware River Bridge (1920-1926). It was these accomplishments and more that put Cret at the
height of the Beaux-Arts movement, a style “characterized by the symmetrical,
axially disposed plans with elevations articulated by historicist detailing derived
from antiquity and the Renaissance”.

II. Date: The University of Texas at Austin Union Building was first designed in 1922 and ended construction in 1933.

III. Location: The Hermes Medallion is located on the west side outside wall of the UT Austin Union building facing Guadalupe Street. It is close to the third floor in height placement.

IV. Acquisition: The Hermes Medallion was placed on the side of the Union building as it was constructed from 1922 to 1933. The medallion was put there to represent the patron saint of the UT McCombs Business School, Hermes. Next to this medallion on the Union also exists the patron saints of the UT law and engineering schools.

V. Description: The Hermes Medallion is a 2’9’’X1’11” limestone base-relief sculpture carved within a circle. The backing of the medallion is a darker shade of yellow, contrasting from the white beige of the Union walls.

Within the relief sculpture, a side profile portrait of Hermes is depicted with him wearing
a winged headband. The winged headband is a symbol of Hermes commonly associated with his divine ability to travel across boundaries. Reference to this accessory can be seen
in a description of an ancient Greek play portraying the Judgement of Paris, “Tiny wings
of gold were projecting from his locks, in which they had been fastened symmetrically on
both sides” (Apuleius, The Golden Ass 10. 30 ff). An example of boundary crossing can
be seen when Hermes travels down to Tartarus, crossing the border between the living
world and the dead, to rescue Persephone from Hades (Ovid, Fasti 4. 417 ff).4 This power
of movement may have been part of what drew the McCombes School of Business to
choose Hermes as their patron saint. His ability to overcome barriers is an inspiration to
future businessmen and women. Similarly, to the right of Hermes a star is depicted
hanging overhead. The star most likely represents the planet Mercury, the Roman name
for Hermes. According to the Hyginus’ De Astronomia, “This fifth star is Mercurius’
[Hermes], named Stilbon. It is small and bright. It is attributed to Mercurius because he
first established the months and perceived the courses of the constellations”
(Pseudo-Hyginus, Astronomica 2.42). This accomplishment of understanding the stars
and creating the months plays into the wisdom and innovation of Hermes, attributes the
McCombes School of Business strives for. The presence of the star may also be a
reminder to “shoot for the stars” and channel more of Hermes’s traveling abilities.
Underneath the star we see the caduceus wand. This well-known symbol features two
snakes intertwined with a winged rod between them. The caduceus wand is commonly
mistaken for the symbol of medicine, the rod of Asclepius. The actual caduceus wand
symbolizes harmony and trade as described in the Apollodorus myth of Hermes stealing
Apollo’s sacred cattle as well as the Hyginus’ De Astronomia. In the story, Hermes trades
a shepherd’s pipe for the golden staff Apollon used to herd the cattle (Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3. 112 – 115). Later when traveling to Arcadia,
“[Hermes] saw two snakes with bodies intertwined, apparently fighting, he put down the
staff between them. They separated then, and so he said that the staff had been appointed to bring peace” (Pseudo-Hyginus, Astronomica 2. 7). Finally, below the caduceus we see a bag decorated with the modern dollar sign. This symbol, though it has no direct correlation to Hermes in classic Greco/Roman myth, could be referencing Hermes as the god of commerce, merchants, and trade. This association leaves no question of the relationship between Hermes and the school of business. Overall, all these symbols illustrate how the values of McCombs are personified through Hermes, making him a fitting patron saint.


APOLLODORUS. “The Library of Greek Mythology”. Translation by Aldrich, Keith. Lawrence, Kansas: Coronado Press, 1975.

APULEIUS. “The Golden Ass”. Translation by Walsh, P. G. The World Classics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Atsma, Aaron J. “HERMES – Greek God of Herds & Trade, Herald of the Gods.” Theoi Greek

Mythology. Theoi Project. Accessed April 30, 2021.

Burkert, Walter. “From Telepinus to Thelpusa.” Essay. In Structure and History in Greek
Mythology and Ritual. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982.

HYGINUS. “The Myths of Hyginus”. Translation by Grant, M. Lawrence, Kansas: University of Kansas Publications.

Nicar, Jim. “Hermes in the House!” The UT History Corner, April 24, 2017.

OVID. “Fasti”. Translation by Boyle, A. J. & Woodard, R. D. London: Penguin Books.
“Paul Phillippe Cret Collection.” University of Texas Libraries. Texas Archival Resources
Online. Accessed April 28, 2021.

Curtis, Todd. Greek and Roman Myth on UT Campus. Department of Classics, April 2, 2021.

Author: Kasidy Grant