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Home > Auctions > 5th December 2023 > Hellenistic Bronze Armour Section with Herakles Fighting Hydra

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LOT 0301

GBP (£) 1,500 - 2,000
EUR (€) 1,730 - 2,310
USD ($) 1,900 - 2,540

Current bid: £1,400 (+bp*)
(1 Bid, Reserve met)

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(1 Bid, Reserve met)   |   Current bid: £1,400
1 3/8 - 6 7/8 in. (122 grams total, 3.4-17.5 cm).

Comprising an embossed fragment of a breast-plate from muscle-type armour (thorax statos) representing Herakles fighting against the Hydra of Lerna; three-quarters of the hero's body preserved showing him naked in a dynamic position, wearing a fluttering short cloak (chlamys), overlooking the body of the monster of which the long tail covered with scales and fins is visible; fragment of cloak preserved separately. [2]

Acquired on the French art market before 2000.
From an EU collection before 2020.

See Marazov, I., Thracian Warrior, Sofia, 2005, p.55, for a cheek-piece with Herakles in identical position; see also parallels with the warriors of the Panagyuriste treasure, pp.115-116; and Herakles against the Amazons in the Rogozen treasure; for similar elements on a bronze anatomical cuirass from Siris (BM) see D'Amato, R., Negin, A., Roman Decorated Armour, from the Age of the Kings to the death of Justinian the Great, Barnsley, 2017, p.46, fig.43.

This kind of armour is very rare, especially for this period, when most of the attested armour is plain or only slightly decorated. The young Herakles appears in heroic nudity running to the right, but, as on the cheek-piece from Gurlo, his head was probably turned in the opposite direction. The plasticism of the scene finds a good match in the Thracian tradition of the representation of weapons and armour, and the embossed elements with the highly prized work of the Panagyurishte treasure. The warrior-theme and the representation of Herakles or other fighting scenes on the Thracian and Hellenistic armours was a reference to the spirit of the immortal fighter.