Questo sito o gli strumenti terzi da questo utilizzati si avvalgono di cookie necessari al funzionamento del sito. Chiudendo questo banner, scorrendo questa pagina, cliccando su un link o proseguendo la navigazione in altra maniera, acconsenti all'uso dei cookie.

ok, ho capito

The Pyrgi Relief

Artwork biography
{ back to biography list }

The Pyrgi Relief
Pediment high relief
470-460 BCE
Room 13b

Production place
Pyrgi (Santa Severa)
rear pediment

polychrome terracotta
hand molded
Dimensions in cm
Height 130; Width 140

Inventory Number
Acquisition date

A densely populated scene characterizes the high relief that covered the rear end of the ridge beam of the roof of Temple A; the latter, built around 470 BCE in the suburban sanctuary of Pyrgi (Santa Severa), port of Caere (Cerveteri), was dedicated to Thesan, Etruscan goddess of dawn.
The artist, in an effort of extreme synthesis and originality, succeeds in telling the stories of two characters of the myth, Tydeus and Capaneus, whose antecedents must be known.
We are under the walls of the city of Thebes, where Eteocles and Polynices, the two cursed sons of Oedipus, fight for power: Eteocles, the legitimate king, is barricaded with the Thebans in the city, while outside the warriors from Argos, allies of the usurper Polynices, try to assault it. As always, the gods witness the clash and intervene.
In fact, in the middle of the scene, an angry Zeus hurls his lightning against Capaneus who has blasphemed the gods, while on the left, at the sight of Tydeus, who, although mortally wounded, bites Melanippo's skull, the goddess Athena moves away disgusted with the potion that would have given immortality to her protegé.
The nakedness of Tydeus and Capaneus underlines the bestiality of their acts and their punishment is the punishment of every behaviour marked by contempt for the gods and the laws of men (hybris); in a political key, it is a condemnation of the tyranny symbolised by Polynices.

AA. VV., Pyrgi. Scavi del santuario etrusco (1969-1971), Notizie degli Scavi di Antichità, II suppl. al vol. XLII-XLIII (1988-1989), Roma 1992.
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. 796-801; pp. 810-812, figg. 37-42.
L. Pepe, “I «Sette contro Tebe» e la spartizione dell’eredità di Edipo”, in Eva Cantarella e Lorenzo Gagliardi (a cura di), Diritto e teatro in Grecia e a Roma, Milano, 2007, pp. 31-67.
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. 9-10 (della versione PDF online), fig. 19.

let's talk

Do you want to speak to us?

Send us your questions or follow us

Follow us on our social


Subscribe to our newsletter

Contact us

Write to us.
Discover who we are and what we do.