Musée Saint-Raymond
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Minerva


Minerva: marble statue discovered on the site of the Roman villa of Chiragan (Martres-Tolosane, Haute-Garonne). Second or third century. Inv. Ra 112 © J.-F. Peiré
Minerva: marble statue discovered on the site of the Roman villa of Chiragan (Martres-Tolosane, Haute-Garonne). Second or third century. Inv. Ra 112 © J.-F. Peiré
Myron, the celebrated Greek sculptor of the fifth century BCE, chose to depict an episode in the history of Athena (Minerva to the Romans, goddess of wisdom, war, and artisanal craft and protector of Athens) and Marsyas, a satyr.
The goddess invented the double flute, created with reeds. While testing her new instrument, with horror she perceived that blowing in the flute deformed her cheeks and made her ugly… so much that she threw it far away. The intrigued satyr Marsyas, who had observed this scene, approached and hurried to seize the instrument. Athena formally forbids him from touching it. This is the moment that Myron chose to freeze in the bronze sculpture.

Only incomplete copies of this famous group were found. Myron’s original statuary group showed a very calm and haughty Athena, wearing a helmet and leaning on a lance that she holds in her right hand. In her left hand, she holds a flute posed on the ground in an authoritative gesture of forbiddance addressed to Marsyas. He is stopped in his tracks with an arm stretched up high.

The Minerva from Martres is of high quality, close to that in Frankfort. She seems immobile in the face view while an imperceptible movement of the folding of her clothing from her feet to her left shoulder accompanies the gesture and movement of the goddess walking.

Minerva conserved in Städtliche Galerie Libieghaus of Frankfort (Germany) and group conserved in the Museo Gregoriano Profano (Vatican, Rome). By Dontworry (Personal work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Minerva conserved in Städtliche Galerie Libieghaus of Frankfort (Germany) and group conserved in the Museo Gregoriano Profano (Vatican, Rome). By Dontworry (Personal work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
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Tolosa's gold age | Chiragan | Necropolis