This lovely head is of a careworn Odysseus, a man who spent more than ten years away from home at war and travelling...Travelling. Remember when we could do that? But he endured, and our next few weeks may teach us similar lessons of patience, strength, practicality, fortitude. We will meet again.
Depicted wearing a pilos, from under which long locks of thick hair escape. His brows are knitted and his deep-set eyes narrowed, his cheeks rather sunk. His thin lips are framed by a long moustache and short beard. Some original polish remains, particularly to his face.
Odysseus was a major character in the most famous of Greek Epic poems, the Iliad, and was the protagonist of the Odyssey, both by Homer. He was an important individual in the mythological tapestry of the Greek world, whose mortal heroism gained him fame and admiration for millennia. His deeds are celebrated as a means of showing the strength of man, the ability to keep a level head and the constant struggle that humankind faces. He lived in a time where monsters and gods walked the earth, and as such made for a an inspiring subject for Greeks and Romans in the sculptural decoration of their homes. Images of Odysseus can readily be found on vases and lamps, and are not uncommon on sarcophagi. However, as marble sculptures, whether part of a group or free standing, they are very rare.
The distinctive pilos, was worn by only a few heroes and individuals from Greek myth. It was a hat worn by travellers, and as such refers to the ten-year journey home that Odysseus made to get back to his wife and son in Ithaca. The thick, slightly straggled beard and moustache and the weathered face also allude to the hard travels he has endured.
1st century BC/AD
Private collection of an archaeologist, Germany
Munzen & Medaillen AG, Auktion 51, 14th-15th May 1975 lot 274
Dr & Mrs Louk van Roozendaal, the Netherlands; acquired 1978 or later