Kallos Gallery

An Italic banded agate intaglio set in a modern gold ring

Circa 3rd – 2nd century BC

An Italic banded agate intaglio set in a modern gold ring

Circa 3rd – 2nd century BC

The banded agate intaglio is set into a gold swivel-ring with a gold impression of the intaglio on its reverse. The figure seems to depict Diana Nemorensis, although Françoise-Hélène Pairault provides convincing evidence that the usual cult-image of the goddess of Aricia was a triple Artemis-Hekate. For further discussion, see F.-H. Pairault, ‘Diana Nemorensis. Déesse latine, déesse hellénisée’, in Mélanges d’Archéologie et d’Histoire, vol. LXXXI, 1969, pp. 425-471.

Nevertheless, this image may still be associated with the Nemi cult, and the branch in the woman’s left hand can be identified as the other-worldly Golden Bough. The subject may represent Diana Nemorensis or, alternatively, Iphigenia, who according to tradition founded the Nemi sanctuary together with her brother Orestes: Servius, Ad Aen. VI. 136. There is a tradition, derived from Hesiod and Stesichorus, that Iphigenia was posthumously deified and equated with Hekate (Artemis), whom she had served as a priestess in Taurus. See M. Henig et al., Classical Gems. Ancient and Modern Intaglios and Cameos in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, 1994, p. 77.

D.D.B Collection, Switzerland, 1960s-2013

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