Link to Carlos Museum home page Link to Emory University home page Link to Carlos Museum calendarLink to Carlos Museum bookshop Link to Carlos Museum search  
Link to Carlos Museum information Link to Carlos Museum collections and exhibitions page Link to Carlos Museum's Odyssey Online

Muse (Terpsichore) Permanent Collection:
Greek and Roman Art:
Muse (Terpsichore)

Marble, perhaps Parian, Greek, late 4th to mid 2nd centuries BC. 2002.31.1. Carlos Collection of Ancient Art

Scale and style of this extraordinarily sensitive figure recall decorative sculpture found in grander private homes in Hellenistic Greece, such as the Houses of the Five Statues or of the Diadoumenos on Delos.

Her identity is not certain. She shares much with goddesses such as Aphrodite (love), Artemis (hunting) and Themis (established law). However, an attribute made perhaps either of stone or of wood (or ivory) and now missing was once dowelled into the top of the tree-stump at her left. This is more likely to have been a lyre, identifying the figure as one of the nine Muses, daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne (Memory): Terpsichore, the Muse of Dance (her name means "she who rejoices in the dance"). She is certainly depicted on a gemstone exhibited in the main gallery. The softness of the facial features, whose elements flow into one another ("sfumato") was achieved by carving the head separately, to guarantee the very finest marble. This may also at times have enabled division of the carving between master craftsman (head) and workshop (body), but here, the delicacy of the right foot and the intimacy of the whole suggest otherwise.

Collections & Exhibitions: | Ancient Egyptian and Nubian Art | Ancient Near Eastern Art | Art of the Ancient Americas | Asian Art | Sub-Saharan African Art | Works of Art on Paper

© Emory University
For more information please see our frequently asked questions.
Last Update: