Ca. 340—330 BCE.
Made by Novios Plautios. Rome, National Etruscan Museum of Villa JuliaPhoto by Egisto Sani
Ca. 340—330 BCE.
Made by Novios Plautios.
Rome, National Etruscan Museum of Villa Julia
DINDIA MACOLNIA FILEAI DEDIT / NOVIOS PLAUTIOS MED ROMAI FECID
states that a local noble woman named “Dindia Macolnia gave it to her daughter / Novios Plautios made it in Rome”. Plautios’ workshop was not in Palestrina but in Rome, which by this date was becoming an important cultural as well as political center.
The cista continuous engraved frieze depicts an episode from the Greek legend of the expedition of the Argonauts in search of the coveted Golden Fleece. During their journey, the sailors stopped in the land of King Amykos, who would permit them to draw water only if one of the Argonauts defeated him in a boxing match. Pollux (Etruscan Pultuce), son of Zeus and twin brother of Castor (Castur), accepted the challenge, won the contest, and then tied the king to a tree. The mythical fight between Polydeukes and Amykos was often represented on Etruscan artworks such of cistae, mirrors etc.
Scholars generally agree that the model for this composition was a fourth-century BCE Greek panel painting, perhaps by Kydias, whose depiction of the Argonauts is documented in Rome at a later date. The Greek source for the Etruscan artist’s engraving is evident in the figures seen in three-quarter and rear views, and in the placement of the participants on several levels, standard features of Classical Greek painting since the fifth century.
The main scene depicts the tree to which is tying the defeated Amykos. The other protagonists are Nike crowning the winner Polydeukes, Athena, and a winged “daimon” recognized either as Boreas or, more correctly, as Sosthenes. For the most part, the husky bearded figure seated to the left of Polydeukes and near the daimon has been accepted as Mygdon, Amykos’ brother, and looked upon as a Bebrycian counterpart to the seated Hellenic spectator (Orpheus) witnessing the contest from the opposite side.