Decorazione, illustrazione o metafora? Su un gruppo di terrecotte architettoniche dal sito di S. Biagio ad Agrigento

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Abstract

At the end of the 19th cent. P. Orsi acquired for the ArchaeologicalMuseum of Syracuse a group of architecturalterracottas said to come from Agrigentum, SanBiagio area (on the SE slope of the Rupe Atenea). Thislot, left quite unnoticed until now, consists of six antefixesof late 5th-early 3rd cent. B.C. Tarantine types withrelief heads of Gorgo-Medusa, Pan, and ArtemisBendis, that can confirm the circulation of these products,known otherwhere in Sicily by a few specimensfrom Gela excavations and from surface finds. But themost noteworthy piece is a fragmentary clay sima witha lion head spout, dated around 280-70 B.C., that is particularlyinteresting both for the technique and for thesubject of its decoration, depicting in low relief twoephebic Erotes hunting a she-bear in a rocky landscape.On one hand, it allows us to investigate howiconographic schemes and models could be disseminatedby means of drawings or sketches, and/or castsor moulds, or some kind of “aides-mémoire”, in graphicor plastic form, and reassembled in new ways bytoreuts, potters and coroplasts. As a matter of fact,some compositional devices of the cynegetic sceneecho late 4th cent. B.C. pictorial models (notwithstandingthe rather rough execution of our relief ); at thesame time, we can observe an intended adaptation ofsome “aulic” or “heroic” motifs to a different content.On the other hand, the oddness of the subject, whichseems unparalleled in Greek art, drives us to interpreton a metaphorical, rather than on a literal, level themeaning of the scene, through the well-known nexus of associations between hunting and eros, and betweenthe wild she-bear and the “untamed” parthenos.If we accept such a metaphorical reading, we canargue that the architectural terracottas from San Biagioexamined here are thematically linked, suggestingan “initiation” scenario and a general concern aboutmaturation and “domestication” of young people, andshedding some light on their proper cultural and religiouscontext.
Original languageItalian
Pages (from-to)365-390
Number of pages26
JournalSICILIA ANTIQVA
VolumeXI (2014)
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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