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3897, Eros, Hellenistic Period; c. 300-250 B.C.

Artist: Photographer: Ardon Bar Hama
Culture: Greek; probably from Tanagra
Material: terracotta
Dimensions: h. 3 in 8.5 cm

This small figure of Eros, with a loop for hanging, was meant to be suspended in flight. In Greek mythology, Eros is the god of love and lust and the son of Aphrodite. This object is most likely from Tanagra, an archaeological site where such sculptures were mass produced and unearthed in large quantities from grave sites.

This Eros has his left leg forward and his right arm raised across his chest. Around his head is a narrow band and draped across his lower body is a chlamys, the robe worn by men. On his feet are boots. A clay loop between the figure's wings (at rear) indicates it was designed to be suspended. Winged figurines were sometimes suspended from the ceiling of a home with ribbons.

There were different types of Erotes. Some were depicted as youths (ephebes) and others, like this one, as a child. During the Hellenistic period, the image of Eros as a child became increasingly popular. The winged cherub remains familiar as a figure on Valentine's Day cards.

Johann Gustav Droysen first coined the term 'Hellenistic' in Geschichte des Hellenismus (History of Hellenism, 2 vols 1836 and 1843) to describe the diffusion of Greek culture over the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East in the 4th-1st centuries BC, the centuries following the death of Alexander the Great and the expansion of the Roman Empire.

See this object on our Collections site here

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