3880, Eros, c. 150-100 B.C.
Artist: Photographer: Ardon Bar Hama
Culture: Greek; from Myrina
Dimensions: h. 15 in / 38 cm
This large Eros, sculpted in flight and originally covered in white slip, probably carried a musical instrument in his hands. Traces of blue and gold remain on the wings of Eros and there is red in his hair.
Freud identified the basic life instinct as Eros, and he said that the evolution of civilization was a result of the struggle between Eros and Death. Freud’s collection has six figurines of Eros, with this one being the largest.
A major work in Freud's collection. The youthful god is shown with one foot lightly touching the earth. While traditionally Eros is associated with a bow and arrow, this Eros may have held a musical instrument such as a lyre.
Eros is depicted as a handsome adolescent and charmingly seductive, referring to love's illusions, its blindness. But his joyful vitality, conveyed by his light stance, raised arms and wings stretched in full flight, symbolise the rapture and energy of love's awakening.
Eros comes from the ancient city of Myrina which was halfway between Smyrna and Pergamon. The area is now part of Turkey. In the early 1880s, many treasures were excavated from a necropolis on the site. Some of the finest terracotta figures of the late Hellenistic and Roman periods were discovered there. The haul by the French School at Athens found its way to the Louvre while many other antiquities, pillaged by the locals, surfaced in the marketplaces of Athens and Paris.
Freud's Eros is superior to similar examples in the Louvre. He bought it in September 1934, four years after publishing Civilization and its Discontents, his final essay testifying to the power of Eros.
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