Inv. No. 12488. Rome, Palatine Museum Photo by Sergey Sosnovskiy
Inv. No. 12488.
Rome, Palatine Museum
121-123. Two heads with the Phrygian cap (Paris and Ganymede).
Found by A. Bartoli during the excavations at the lower floor of the Domus Augustana. Both are broken at the neck. Chipping of the nose, lips, cap. Greek island marble.
Paris: height 32, Ganymede: 29; inv. 12488, 12486.
The two heads were excavated and probably exhibited, together opposing each other.
The first (n.121), bent at the right shoulder, represents the young Paris and is the copy of a bronze original of Euphranor (circa 370-360 BC). The other head is very similar, but is inverted mirror-fashion and with different treatment of the curls, larger, thicker and furrowed with the drill. It is probably Ganymede but is to be considered a simple variation of the first (n. 123).
The head of Paris, which stands out because of the refined workmanship, in which the line still predominates over the volumes, is to be dated to the Hadrianic age, although recently this dating has been brought forward. On the other hand, the head of the supposed Ganymede, albeit similar to the first in terms of the marble, size, and also the precision of the execution, has different stylistic features. The thickening of the volumes which simplifies the curls and makes the features and the eyelids heavier — a much more extensive use of the drill — is to found well into the Antonine age.
Although it is certain that the two statues were exhibited mirror-fashion, it is not easy to understand their relationship and above all their meaning, in terms of how they were exhibited.
What is still an interesting but improbable idea — given the qualitative and stylistic characteristics of the sculpture — is that the two heads with the Phrygian cap might represent two gods of the Mithras cult. Such a cult has been proved to exist with certainty on the Palatine.