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Head of Leucotea


Artwork biography
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Name
Head of Leucotea
Typology
Pediment high relief
Date
340-330 BCE
Location
Room 13b

Production place
Cerveteri
Provenance
Pyrgi (Santa Severa)
Findspot
Temple A, front

Materials
polychrome terracotta
Technique
hand molded
Dimensions in cm
H 20; Width 15

Inventory Number
53889
Acquisition date
1969-1971

The female head must have been part of the high relief which covered the front end of the ridge beam of the roof of temple A in its 350 BCE reconstruction in the sanctuary of Pyrgi (Santa Severa), the ancient port of Caere (Cerveteri).
Greek sources recall the terrible pillage by Dionysius of Syracuse (384 BCE) of temple A, which was dedicated to Thesan, the Etruscan goddess of Dawn. The temple was also attributed by Greek writers to Leucothea (literally the "white goddess"), assimilated by the Romans to Mater Matuta, a goddess deeply linked to the rites of passage and transition, such as birth and, therefore, also the dawn.
The head seems to refer to this goddess, who gives us an image in strong movement with curly hair moved by the wind and a"pathetic" expression given by the open mouth.
Almost one hundred years after the relief with Tydeus and Capaneus, the new decoration of the temple introduces another myth of the Theban saga, in which Ino/Leucothea and her son Palemone, as Ovid tells us, are welcomed by Heracles, whose crowned torso is displayed in the same showcase, after fleeing from Thebes because of the persecution of Hera.

AA. VV., Pyrgi. Scavi del santuario etrusco (1969-1971), Notizie degli Scavi di Antichità, II suppl. al vol. XLII-XLIII (1988-1989), Roma 1992, pp. 40-41, n. 3, fig. 34.


G. Colonna, “Il santuario di Pyrgi dalle origini mitistoriche agli altorilievi frontonali dei Sette e di Leucotea”, in Scienze dell’antichità, 10, 2000, pp. 251-336, ora in Italia Ante Romanum Imperium. Scritti di antichità etrusche, italiche e romane (1999-2013), VI, pp. 735-813, in part. pp. 803-812.


G. Colonna, “Il pantheon degli Etruschi - “i più religiosi degli uomini” - alla luce delle scoperte di Pyrgi”, in Lectio brevis a.a. 2011-2012, in Atti della Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, s. IX, XXIX, 3, 2012, pp. 580-581, fig. 21.

M. P. Baglione, “Il santuario di Pyrgi nel IV secolo: la decorazione del tempio A”, in Gli Etruschi e il Mediterraneo. La città di Cerveteri, Catalogo della Mostra (Lens, musée du Louvre-Lens, 5 Dicembre 2013-10 marzo 2014; Roma, Palazzo delle Esposizioni, 15 Aprile-20 Luglio 2014), Roma 2014, p. 276 con scheda n. 327.

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