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Archeological Object

Cameo showing contest between Athena and Poseidon

Cameo showing contest between Athena and Poseidon

The cameo is made of sardonyx agate, with a brown, non-translucent base and ivory-white figures. It depicts the dispute between Athena and Poseidon for the conquest of Attica at the time of the mythical king Cecropes. On the left, the god is shown in profile facing to the right; he is depicted naked, with a cloak draped over his left thigh. He rests his left foot on a rock, while he holds a long pole (a trident?) in his right hand and raises his left hand forwards. On the right, Athena, shown in profile facing left, with a draped garment and a crested helmet, holds her left hand on her hip, while in her right hand she holds the branch of a tree, probably an olive, against which she leans her spear, as a reminder of the motif of her victory over Poseidon: indeed, according to myth, King Cecrops swore that the Goddess had been the first to plant an olive tree in the ground of Athens. Completing the scene, behind Poseidon, there is a dolphin with a raised tail, and at the foot of the tree, a snake, symbolising Cecrops or Erittonio, whose head reaches Athena’s shield, situated behind the goddess. Under the line of the base shells, coral branches and flowers can be seen, as well as the initials of the craftsman who did the engraving, Pyrgoteles. In the exergue is the acronym recalling that the gem once belonged to the collection of Lorenzo de' Medici.

Further information
Codici (Label is not translated)
  Ente_competente: Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici delle Province di Napoli e Caserta
  SGTI: contesa tra Atena e Poseidone
Localizzazione_geografico-amministrativa (Label is not translated)
  PVCS: Italia
  regione: CAMPANIA
  provincia: Napoli
  comune: Napoli
  LDCT: palazzo
  Name: Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli
  Indirizzo: Piazza Museo, 19 - 80135
  Location: Sala X, display case 2, no. 28
Altre_localizzazioni_geografico_amministrative_reperimento (Label is not translated)
  PRVS: Italia
  regione: TOSCANA
  provincia: Firenze
  comune: Firenze
  PRCC: Palazzo Reale
  PRCM: Collezione dei Medici
Altre_localizzazioni_geografico_amministrative_provenienza (Label is not translated)
  Provenance: Florence, Collection of Lorenzo de' Medici, later Rome, Farnese Collection
  PRVS2: Italia
  regione: CAMPANIA
  provincia: Napoli
  comune: Napoli
  PRCU2: P.zza del Plebiscito, 1
  PRCM2: Collezione Farnese
Altre_localizzazioni_geografico_amministrative (Label is not translated)
  TCL3: luogo di collocazione successiva
  PRVS3: Italia
  regione: CAMPANIA
  provincia: Napoli
  comune: Napoli
  PRCU3: Via Miano, 2
Dati_patrimoniali (Label is not translated)
  Inventory number: 25837
  INVD: 1863 post
Definizione_culturale (Label is not translated)
  Author: Pyrgoteles
Dati_tecnici (Label is not translated)
  MISU: cm.
  Height: 5.12
  Width: 4.3
Dati_analitici (Label is not translated)
  Inscriptions - language: Greek
  Inscriptions - text:

Condizione_giuridica_e_vincoli (Label is not translated)
  CDGG: proprietà Stato
Fonti_e_documenti_di_riferimento (Label is not translated)

Furtwangler 1900, III, p. 167; Spinazzola 1928, n. 244, p. XXXV; Pesce 1935, n. 1, pp. 8-9, tav. I, 1; de Franciscis 1963, fig. 73; Wester-Simon 1965, p. 32, fig. 15; Tesoro 1980, n. 6, pp. 42-44, tav. IX, fig. 61; LIMC II, 1, 1984 p. 1098, s.v. Athena/Minerva, n. 343; LIMC III, 1, 1986, p. 995, s.v. Eros/Amor, Cupido, n. 329; Collezioni Museo 1989, I, 2, n. 6, pp. 222-223; De Caro 1994, p. 341; Gemme Farnese 1994, n. 28, p. 140, fig. 81 e bibliografia; LIMC VII, 1, 1994, p. 473, s.v. Poseidon, n. 237; Pannuti 1983-1994, II, 1994, n. 82, pp. 112-113 e bibliografia; Ensoli 1995, p. 297, fig. 20; Farnese 1995a, p. 122; De Caro 1999, p. 51.