The Ficoroni Cista
Ca. 340—330 BCE.
Made by Novios Plautios.
Rome, National Etruscan Museum of Villa JuliaPhoto by Egisto Sani

The Ficoroni Cista.

Ca. 340—330 BCE.
Made by Novios Plautios.

Rome, National Etruscan Museum of Villa Julia
(Roma, Museo nazionale etrusco di Villa Giulia).

From Palestrina.
Identified the main protagonists of the main scene as Polydeukes, Amykos, Nike, Athena, Boreas or Sosthenes, and Mygdon, thirteen other characters are represented in the various scenes of the cista frieze. Taken off Polydeukes’ little slave, the twelve remaining characters may be identified as the Argonauts. Indeed, according to Pindar, it was precisely twelve heroes who set forth on the great adventure. In this case, the favorite classical number of twelve consists of the following heroes listed in the poet’s order: Herakles, Kastor and Polydeukes, all three, sons of Zeus; Euphemos and Periklymenos, the sons of Poseidon; Orpheus, Apollo’s son, Echion and Erytos, sons of Hermes; Zetes and Kalais, the Boreades. The occurrence of a band of twelve Argonauts in these two instances suggests that the fourth Pythian Ode and the cista reflect a common tradition.

The bearded figure standing to the right of Athena has frequently been called Herakles. Given the fact that he is the only bearded Argonaut on the cista, and that Herakles was already a mature and celebrated hero when he joined in the quest, this identification is probably correct. The youth seated beside him has most often been called Jason for no reason save that he occupies so important a position. Nevertheless, this laurel-crowned youth whose feet are protected by shoes and who is adorned by an armband in no way suggests the hardy hero. On the contrary, his appearance is well-suited to Orpheus whose rank among the Argonauts is attested by the fact that Apollonios Rhodios lists him as the very first of his far larger company.

Kastor could be the figure seated on the Argo who watches the main scene so intently. The fact that like his twin brother Polydeukes, he has the now familiar downy beard on his face suggests that this identification is correct, especially since, as we shall see, both of the Dioskouroi are characterized by this beard in the little epilogue scene.

The remainder of Pindar’s Argonauts, the sons of Poseidon, of Hermes, and of Boreas cannot be identified with any reasonable degree of certainty.

By exclusion, the young man descending from the ship Argo near Kastor, can reasonably be identified as Echion or Erytos, one of the two sons of Hermes.

(cc) 2015. Photo: Egisto Sani (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).
© 1945. Description: Williams P. L., “Note on the Interpretation of the Ficoroni Cista”, American Journal of Archaeology, vol. 49, no. 3, pp. 348—352.
Keywords: ελληνική μυθολογία mythologia graeca greek mythology mitologia greca griechische mythologie grecque θεά αθηνά παλλὰς ἀθηνᾶ ἀθήνη athene athena pallas goddess dea atena göttin déesse athéna athéné ἡρακλῆς ηρακλής herakles heracles èracle eracle héraclès διόσκοροι διόσκουροι κάστωρ kastor πολυδεύκης polydeukes gemini dioscuri castor et pollux castores tyndaridae tyndarids polydeuces castore polideuce polluce dioskuren und tyndariden dioscures ἔρως έρως eros éros ετρουρία ετρουσκική etruria etruscan etrusco etruskisch etruskische etruskischer etruskischen étrusque ὀρφεύς ορφέας orpheus orfeo orphée ἰάσων ιάσονας ιάσων jason iason giasone giasóne ἀργοναῦται αργοναύτες argonautai argonautes argonautae argonauts argonauti argonautensage argonauten cista cist ciste ἐχίων ἐχίονος εχίων echion echione échion ἔρυτος εὔρυτος εύρυτος erytos eurytos erytus eurytus erito eurito male footwear footgear calzatura maschile männerschuhe chaussures pour hommes ανδρικά παπούτσια corona wreath kranz couronne laurea laurel di alloro laureata lorbeerkranz de lauriers δάφνινο στεφάνι bronze bronzo ορείχαλκος barba barbatum beard bearded man uomo barbuto bart bärtiger mann barbe homme barbu γενειάδα γενειοφόρος άνθρωπος hasta spear lancia speer lance δόρυ taenia tainia band ribbon fillet tenia tänie binden tænia ténia ταινία ship rudder timone laterale ruder heckruder gouvernail τιμόνι alatus alata winged alato geflügelt ailé φτερωτό palmette palmetta the ficoroni copper rame kupfer cuivre χαλκό palestrina praeneste from da von spearhead punta speerspitze fer αιχμή δόρατος flying volante alivolo fliegen fliegend beschwingt en volant πέταγμα navis vessel nave schiff navire πλοίο scalae ladder scala leiter treppe steigleiter échelle escalier σκάλα aqua water acqua wasser eau νερό armband fascia braccio armbinde brassard περιβραχιόνιο aplustre stern poppa heck poupe πρύμνη bucket secchio eimer kübel seau κουβάς argo ἀργώ ἄργος αργώ novios plautios novius plautius dindia macolnia