Statue of a Maenad or Muse



An underlife size statue of a female figure, standing on her right leg, the left leg bent at the knee, resting to the back and slightly to the side. The upper body is also slightly turned but there is no evidence of the original position of the arms or the direction of the original head. She wears a sleeveless chiton, girdled just under the breasts and draped in a long kolpos. A nebris, slung diagonally across the body is tied to the left shoulder and falls low on the hips while passing under the girdle band to secure it. The body looks thick and motionless. There is little effort to distinguish the skin of the nebris from the woven fabric of the chiton, the drapery has a rather stiff appearance. Bartman noted that the modelling of the right breast is particularly awkard while the back is worked in a very general manner. Only the flowing lower of the kolpos is convincing as a real fabric. It is difficult to identify the statuette because the head is a restoration and because the attributes are missing. She looks similar to draped women interpreted as Muses (possibly Thalia). Muses are normally dressed more modestly and have their arms covered. The bare arms of this piece perhaps suggest a Maenad. In Greek mythology, the maenads were the female followers of the god Dionysos whereas the Muses were goddesses who provided the inspriation for science and the arts. Maenads lived in the woods and this would justify the nebris the statuette wears. Maenads, wearing a nebris are also in the group of ancient reliefs known as the Callimachan series. The ancient sculptor either adapted a sculptural type or created a new type using personal and unique attributes. Maenads became popular as a theme and the restorer may have tried to adjust the identity of a modest original figure. The head and neck were also restored, the right arm and left forearm. The drapery also has signs of recut. During conservation treatment it became apparent that the right arm was attached incorrectly: the new mount is angled more sharply at the elbow and elevated.