Skip to navigation – Site map

A Grotesque Terracotta Figurine of the First Century C.E. from Muralto, Ticino, Switzerland: Function, Use, and Meaning

Simone Voegtle

Abstract

A Roman terracotta figurine representing a grotesque ithyphallic male figure with the characteristics of a cock is discussed in relation to its role as an apotropaic device.

Top of page

Full text

The ‘bird-man’1

  • 1 The legibility of this text owes much to Andrew Lawrence and Lawrence Desmond, who I would like to (...)
  • 2 There were regular excavation campaigns in 1936/37 and 1947, but our object was probably found befo (...)
  • 3 H 13 cm, W max 12 cm. Bern (Hist. Mus. 16213). Voegtle 2015, 158–160; Von Gonzenbach 1995, 176–177, (...)
  • 4 Von Gonzenbach 1986, 31–34; Von Gonzenbach 1995, 80.

1In Muralto, in the Swiss canton of Ticino, sometime in the first half of the 20th century,2 a very unusual mold-made terracotta figurine was discovered. It portrays a male figure with a thrust out posterior sitting on a cylindrical pedestal; the head, once broken off, has been reattached. (fig. 1).3 The figure is grotesquely deformed by a huge, egg-shaped head, an enlarged bird-like, hooked nose, unusually long ears, and eyes that are partially hidden by contracted brows. A flap-like extension beneath the chin represents a cock’s wattle, a cockscomb is set on the figure’s bald head, and the figure has wide, but short, genitalia. This mold-made figure was cast without linear detail, which subsequently was incised in the wings and tail after casting. While the provenance of the figurine is not precisely known, similar figurines dated to the first century C.E. were found in a nearby necropolis, whose contexts allow us to assign that date to the our figurine as well.4

Fig. 1: Terracotta figurine of a ‘cockman.’ Bern (Hist. Mus. 16213)

Fig. 1: Terracotta figurine of a ‘cockman.’ Bern (Hist. Mus. 16213)

© Historisches Museum Bern (picture S. Voegtle)

  • 5 Von Gonzenbach 1995, 257, fig. 103, 1, pl. 30, 4 as well as pl. 30, 1.
  • 6 Perdrizet 1911, 60 no. 97, pl. 28.

2The bird-like components of the figure are similar to a multitude of other Roman terracotta cock representations.5 The grotesque human head has an interesting parallel in a Greco-Roman bronze head from Lower Egypt in the Fouquet Collection that depicts a bald-headed man with a cockscomb, big ears and lips, and a huge, beak-shaped nose (fig. 2).6

Fig. 2: Bronze head of a ‘cockman.’ After Perdrizet 1911, 60 no. 97, pl. 28

Fig. 2: Bronze head of a ‘cockman.’ After Perdrizet 1911, 60 no. 97, pl. 28
  • 7 Hackin 1954, 147–148, 284 no. 177, fig. 328, 455. The object is dated to the first century B.C.E. ((...)
  • 8 Von Gonzenbach 1995, 176; for the dating see Von Gonzenbach 1995, 80.

3A small bronze statuette of a cock with a human head and bird legs, and sitting on a pedestal was found in Begram, Afghanistan (fig. 3), and is very similar to the Egyptian piece.7 Despite the loss of some detail, clearly recognizable is the head of a man with a flat forehead, large ears, and a hooked nose. Neither comb nor wattle is present, but a tail and the legs allow it to be identified as a cock. As both bronzes come from places far from Rome, it is notable that the bird-man as a motif was a product of the region of northern Italy.8

Fig. 3: Bronze figurine of a ‘cockman.’ After Hackin 1954, 284 no. 177, fig. 328

Fig. 3: Bronze figurine of a ‘cockman.’ After Hackin 1954, 284 no. 177, fig. 328

The special significance of the figurine

4Unfortunately, we do not know the exact nature of the context of our bird-figure, but through a closer examination of the different components of the figurine it still is possible to gain a deeper understanding of its meaning.

  • 9 Ael. NA 3.31; see also Neue Pauly 5:750, s.v. “Huhn (Hahn)” (C. Hünemörder).
  • 10 For example Kaufmann-Heinimann 1994, 7–9 no. 4, pl. 7 and 19–21 no. 15, pl. 20.
  • 11 H 20.2 cm. London (BM 1814,0704.415), first century C.E.
  • 12 Cf. a bronze statuette of Mercury in Bloomington (Indiana Univ. Art Mus. 74.20), dating to the seco (...)
  • 13 Dasen 2015, 185–187.

5The cock was an attribute of Hermes/Mercury in his form as a deity of light, who, according to Aelian, was able to avert demons.9 Many Roman bronze statuettes show the god with this bird at his feet.10 An interesting example in the British Museum that served as a tintinnabulum, or noise maker, has different attributes. This presents a standing, naked, ithyphallic man, to which some characteristics of the cock have been added, such as a cockscomb on the head and wattles flanking the cheeks (fig. 5).11 Except for these iconographic features and the enormous phallus, the figure is human in all aspects. A cloth is tied around his waist, and on the right side of its hem a bell is attached. The figure holds another bell in his left hand and a purse in his right. There probably were more bells on the left edge of the cloth, on the loop of the phallus, and perhaps on the purse. A hole through the cockscomb served as a means of suspension. The figure is easily identified as Mercury by the purse.12 On the one hand, the ithyphallic representation of the god refers to the use of the figure as a tintinnabulum, which often comes in the form of a phallus. On the other hand, it recalls the phalloi of the herms. In this case, the apotropaic function of the phallus is reinforced by the bells, and the features of the cock.13

Fig. 5: Tintinnabulum. London (BM 1814,0704.415)

Fig. 5: Tintinnabulum. London (BM 1814,0704.415)

© Trustees of the British Museum

  • 14 Deonna 1910, 17 (esp. n. 3).
  • 15 Berlin, Antikensammlung F2095, 525–475 B.C.E.
  • 16 Aristot., Phgn. 810 a 30–31.
  • 17 Aristot., Phgn. 810 a 38–811 b 2, 812 b 11–12.
  • 18 Higgins 1954, 220, pl. 112. Regarding the identification of the statuettes see Huysecom-Haxhi (2015 (...)
  • 19 Kozanli 2015, 386–391, 393. The animal caricature represented by the monkey in my opinion is a spec (...)
  • 20 Huysecom 2003, 98; Dasen 2010, 29.
  • 21 For some examples from Rhodes, not necessarily from children’s graves, see Higgins (1954, 78–79, pl (...)
  • 22 Huysecom-Haxhi 2015, 83–85.

6There are more examples of combinations of cock and phallus that confirm this affinity on red-figure vases.14 On a black-figure kyathos in Berlin, a naked woman is riding a phallus bird between two big eyes.15 The apotropaic aspect, symbolized also by the eyes, is combined with the erotic. It should be pointed out that according to the physiognomic conceptions held in the ancient world, not only the cock specifically, but the bird as such, was a symbol for lust.16 According to Aristotle, the characteristics of the cock – the hooknose and glistening eyes – label someone as lascivious.17 It is therefore not unexpected that the cock was a popular erotic gift between men. As a love-gift it witnessed the relation between the ephebe and his lover, between eromenos and erastes. As is well known, the relationship of the two aimed at the education of the former and the preparation for his initiation into citizenship. In Boeotian graves of the mid-fifth century B.C.E. this stage of life is represented by terracotta figurines of a naked young man wearing only a himation and holding a cock in his hand (fig. 6).18 Two graves of the Augustan period of probably male children in the necropolis of Parion in Mysia combine several cock figurines with dogs and other animals. One grave contained 73 terracottas with 6 of cocks, 12 of dogs, and a grotesque monkey disguised as a warrior.19 The cock was also linked to the wedding ritual. It was an attribute of Kore, Demeter’s daughter, who had to marry Hades the ruler of the underworld.20 This means that cock figurines in the grave by themselves21 or in the hand of an adolescent could indicate the identity of the deceased, albeit not without ambiguity.22

Fig. 6: Terracotta figurine of a young man. London (BM 1931.2–16.33); after Higgins 1954, 220 no. 822, pl. 112

Fig. 6: Terracotta figurine of a young man. London (BM 1931.2–16.33); after Higgins 1954, 220 no. 822, pl. 112

Grotesque terracotta figurines and their uses

  • 23 Voegtle 2015, 14–16.

7With its unusual hybrid appearance, the Ticino figurine is likely part of a group of grotesque figurines that had a common function as apotropaic instruments, even if their uses varied within different social contexts.23

  • 24 While the so-called ‘genre’ statues are part of Greek large-scale sculpture, the grotesques appear (...)
  • 25 Giuliani 1987, 714–718; Voegtle 2013, 106–107, 206.

8As we will see, by utilizing an ugly, non-canonical form, many objects could have an apotropaic function. From the fourth century B.C.E onwards, small-scale sculpture developed a rich repertoire of ridiculous and grotesque types that set a trajectory different from public and conspicuously visible art. The so-called grotesques were an enhancement of the Hellenistic interest in the human body and its weakness and imperfections by depicting ill and deformed individuals. Their variety ranges from representations of clinically diagnosable deformities to exaggerated physical abnormalities (fig. 4).24 According to Giuliani, bronze and terracotta figurines of this kind were life-like representations of beggars and others who gathered at big feasts in temples or at the houses of the wealthy. In the latter case, they indicated the importance and wealth of the host because the more beggars attracted to an event the greater the fortune of the event organizer. By implication, the bronze and terracotta portraits of these marginal people could have become symbols and charms of good luck that would have been placed in private houses.25

Fig. 4: Grotesque bronze figurine. Hamburg (Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe 1949.40); after Himmelmann 1983, pl. 45

Fig. 4: Grotesque bronze figurine. Hamburg (Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe 1949.40); after Himmelmann 1983, pl. 45
  • 26 For more examples, using mostly animal features to deform a human figure see Voegtle 2015, 143–188.
  • 27 Himmelmann 1983, 41; Giuliani 1987, 704; Fischer 1994, 63. Certain grotesque figures like the Egypt (...)
  • 28 While other terms for amulets as phylakterion or periamma refer unambiguously to their aim and use (...)
  • 29 Poll., 7.108.
  • 30 Phrynichos, 68 (Rutherford).
  • 31 Vita Aesopi 3.12.2.
  • 32 Plut., Quaest. conv. 5.7 (681–682).
  • 33 Varro, Ling.7.97.

9Many grotesque representations, however, did not arise from the Hellenistic world of feasts and symposia and depict different sorts of deformities, as the example at hand demonstrates.26 Terracotta figurines developed differently because of their suitability and openness to non-canonical forms, but much also has to do with their use. Some of the Hellenistic or Greco-Roman figurines have a loop on their back that indicates that they were to be suspended or worn as an amulet.27 These types of objects are described by ancient sources as a baskanion, or charm.28 Pollux29 says that the term was used for ridiculous figurines (geloia tina), made by blacksmiths and served to turn away envy (epi phthonou apotrope) – note that he uses the word apotropein to describe their function. These figurines, according to Phrynichos,30 were also suspended by the artisans themselves to protect their own work. Furthermore, we read in the Vita Aesopi that the deformed Aesop was considered a baskanion by the other slaves, who thought their master had bought him for that purpose.31 Fear of the evil eye, according to Plutarch, seems to have been the most common impetus for the use of this kind of apotropaion: “When those possessed by envy (phthonos) to this degree let their glance fall upon a person, their eyes, which are close to the mind and draw from it the evil influence and passion, then assail that person as if with poisoned arrows; hence, I conclude, it is not paradoxical or incredible that they should have an effect on the persons who encounter their gaze… What I have said shows why the so-called amulets (probaskania) are thought to be a protection against malice. The strange look of them (atopia) attracts the gaze, so that it exerts less pressure upon its victim.”32 Varro also mentions the connection between the ugly (turpicula), and the unfavorable (scaevus), but those meanings can change to favorable, he says, when the object is used as an amulet.33

Places of use for apotropaic terracottas: the private sphere

  • 34 Assmann 2002, 150; Rumscheid 2006, 126; Voegtle 2015, 15–16.

10The main place for apotropaic rituals and measures were not official religious sites, but rather the private sphere. The strange-looking baskania were thus used to protect humans themselves, as well as the places where they worked and lived.34 Any grotesque object in the above-determined sense might have served as a prophylactic device.

  • 35 Dasen 2015, 39. In general see Kaufmann 1915, 37; Himmelmann 1994, 90; Rumscheid 2006, 301.
  • 36 Allen 1986, 241–242; Rabeisen and Vertet 1986, 54–57; Rumscheid 2006, 76–123. Almost 400 terracotta (...)
  • 37 In Pompeji, 44 figurines were probably found in houses and shops (D’Ambrosio and Borriello 1990, 81 (...)
  • 38 Allen 1986, 136. 460–465 nos. 104–106, 468–469 no. 108.
  • 39 Rumscheid 2006, 290–301 (six were provably found in houses, one in a shop).

11As the focus of this paper is a grotesque terracotta figurine, a brief overview of where such objects have been found may be useful. Grotesques were seldom found in sanctuaries as votive offerings, although a number of grotesque Bes statuettes have been brought to light in sanctuaries dedicated to female deities.35 However, as we know from excavations in Pompeii, Priene, Karanis or Alesia, for example, terracotta figurines have been found in great numbers in urban areas and private houses, especially from Hellenistic times onwards.36 Among the 264 pieces recovered by the excavations at Pompei are two grotesques, one of which was discovered close to the entrance of a private house. Of the 334 terracottas found at Alesia, five are grotesques, and of those five, four were found in private residences.37 Only a minority of the clay figurines from Karanis are actually documented, and among those 154 objects are four grotesques, and one of them was found inside a house.38 Fourteen grotesques were excavated in Priene, from a total of 154 terracotta figurines.39

  • 40 Late fourth century B.C.E. (Faraone 1992, 8; Rumscheid 2006, 129, 301).
  • 41 Nachtergael 1985, 235–236; Von Gonzenbach 1995, 421; Rumscheid 2006, 126–127; Laforge 2009, 19–25; (...)
  • 42 Mitchell 2007, 281–289; Faraone 2013, 93–94.
  • 43 Lorenz 2005, 205–209, 217–219.
  • 44 Nenova-Merdjanova 2000, 303, 312.
  • 45 Voegtle 2015, 210–211.

12Especially interesting is a grotesque, anthropomorphic, seated figure40 found in a shrine at the entrance to a house in Kolophon. That it had an apotropaic function seems particularly clear because of its location at the threshold between the inside and the outside of the house. The use of figurines of grotesques in private shrines in Greek and Roman houses appears to be quite common, even though the majority of these figurines might have been dedicated to gods associated with the cultic realm.41 The specific function of an individual grotesque found in a living area cannot be fully known because the apotropaic and/or auspicious meanings allow for multiple uses. Another important consideration is the representative aspect of figurines of special quality. In wealthy Hellenic and Roman houses interior decoration, such as the mosaic floors and wall paintings, were of great importance. Mitchell has pointed out the varied presence of apotropaic symbols incorporated in the mosaic pavement and the façade of a private house in Butrint.42 Wall paintings also formed a system of meanings that created specific iconographic environments corresponding to the function of a room. Often they integrated protective and auspicious symbols, thus presenting different levels of meanings to the ‘reader’ of the images.43 Finally, apotropaic symbols could be applied to all sorts of everyday devices, such as oil vessels44, lamps, or knifes.45 Apparently, there was a widespread need to protect the house and its inhabitants from what were perceived as a variety of real and imaginary dangers. That protection was provided by terracotta figurines because of their versatility. And those figurines, because of their ‘prophylactic function,’ were also adaptable to the sepulchral sphere.

Places of use for apotropaic terracottas: grotesques in the grave.

  • 46 Graepler 1997, 238; Huysecom 2003, 94–95.
  • 47 Graepler 1997, 238.
  • 48 Graepler 1997, 242.
  • 49 Himmelmann 1994, 103–107. Further examples are known from Myrina (Rumscheid, 2006, 176, 301). An en (...)

13While the majority of the terracottas of grotesques come from funerary contexts, when compared to types of other grave goods they are relatively few in number. In Taranto, for example, no more than 5% of the graves from the fourth to the first century B.C.E. were furnished with terracotta figurines.46 It is also interesting to note that the majority of the Tarantine burials with terracottas were identified as female due to their grave goods, with 60% of them children’s graves.47 However, the few grotesques that were found in the necropolis of Taranto were from the burial of a male child, and were found together with figurines of comic actors.48 The combination of types of grotesques with comic actors is known also from other funerary contexts. Himmelmann mentions a burial of the fourth century B.C.E. in Delphi, where, among the typical grave goods for young girls, a grotesque female figurine and a figurine of a comic actor in the role of Herakles were found.49

  • 50 Von Gonzenbach 1986, 63–65 pl. 38–39. See Huysecom (2003, 92–94, 97, Sindos) for more examples.
  • 51 Huysecom 2003, 97; Nenna 2012, 281, fig. 16; Selekou 2015, 358–359. The above-mentioned grave of a (...)
  • 52 Graepler 1997, 153; Boutantin 2014, 129–131; Selekou 2015, 361.
  • 53 Covering different Greek and Roman sites and epochs: Graepler 1997, 155–557; Huysecom 2003, 100–101 (...)
  • 54 For example, the ‘dolls’ that often were part of the “maiden’s kit” in the graves of young girls “n (...)
  • 55 Dasen 2003, e.g. 286–289; Dasen 2015, 46.
  • 56 It is also interesting to note that the deceased not only had to be protected from the possible dan (...)

14Another common type of grave furnishing associated with grotesques was the animal figurine. A grave in Colchester from the first century C.E. yielded numerous grotesques, including a statuette of Heracles and several togati, sitting, standing reclining, all with deformed heads. Among the grave goods were also vessels in animal form.50 Terracotta animals are not very frequent in funerary contexts either, but they do appear to be typical for children’s graves,51 and the same seems to be the case for the grotesques. The reason for this tendency can be found in different hypotheses. As for figurines of animals and actors, they have been interpreted as either toys or objects of entertainment.52 This assumes a conception of an afterlife that expects a continuation of life after death that is similar to that of the living. Graves of young girls often contained objects interpreted to be iconographic representations of an unfulfilled marriage and motherhood. These grave furnishings may have been connected to the rituals that accompanied the burial and that functioned as signs of social identity.53 Thus, we may conclude that these funerary objects had a symbolic meaning.54 Moreover, there seems to have been a particular need to protect deceased children, as the various amulets found in Greco-Roman graves illustrate.55 It is therefore not surprising that besides animal figurines, whose efficacy of protection will be discussed below, there were figurines of grotesques as well. Their apotropaic function seems to have been especially sought after within the context of an early death, which was considered in antiquity to be outside of the natural order. Protection was seen as more appropriate in these cases of increased vulnerability.56

The apotropaic function of the non-canonical form

  • 57 See Veyne (2005, 9–10) regarding the cultural proximity of the Greek and Roman epochs.
  • 58 See for example Garland 2010, 105.

15To a large extent, Greek57 society was defined by the concept of kalokagathia, the union of the beautiful and the good as the ideal form.58 In consequence, the analogy of form and content applied also to the opposite – on the other side of the beautiful, the good, and the right stood the ugly, the evil, and the false. If the canonical form of the normal was abandoned or violated, the result was not only considered ugly in its exterior aspect, but also evil in the moral sense. Ugliness represented an inferiority that was undesirable.

  • 59 Schlesier 1990, 41–42. Apotropaic deities were, for example, Hades, Athena and Apollo.
  • 60 Faraone 1991, 168–169 with note 11; Faraone 1992, 117–119; Voegtle 2015, 216. It is obvious in disc (...)
  • 61 Vernant (1990, 88) points to the close relation of Gorgon and Artemis: “Par certains de ses aspects (...)
  • 62 Vernant 1990, 124–126. Giuman (2013, 60–67) also discusses the question of the efficiency of the pr (...)

16Strategies to avoid, or be protected from, the ugly and the evil were therefore important, and many divine or demonic forces were called upon for assistance. The term apotropaioi theoi was applied to different Greek gods, Olympian as well as chthonic. Their common characteristic was their ambiguous nature as forces that not only defend, but also cause evil and misfortune, and therefore had to be turned away.59 This double meaning did not exist without reason. The principle of analogy – like produces like – seems to be particularly effective in this regard.60 It is perfectly embodied in the Gorgon’s head. Even if the Medusa was not an apotropaic deity in the above-mentioned sense, its ambivalent function is obvious:61 Medusa can turn the unwary to stone with a single glance, but if one were to hide behind that horrible face, as Perseus did, one would not be turned to stone, but would be protected from enemies. Interestingly, the instrument Perseus used to defeat the Gorgon was a shield that served as a mirror that reflected the monster’s powerful image into its own eyes thus defeating it.62 In other words, by imitating a threat, the threat can be turned away.

  • 63 Schlesier 1990, 43–44, also for the difficulties regarding the utilization of the term.
  • 64 LSJ9, 43.
  • 65 For example Voegtle 2015, 90–92.
  • 66 Halliwell 2008, 244.
  • 67 Brown 1989, 288–292; Dillon 1991, 347–348, 354–355; Kullmann 1995, 81; Zanker 1995, 53–54; Meyer 20 (...)
  • 68 There are examples from real life, as well as from the mythological sphere (Voegtle 2015, 89–91, 93 (...)

17The apotropaic function of the physically deformed and ugly, i.e. non-canonical, is contested by some scholars63, but an explanation is possible. A common method to show dissociation or non-identification is with laughter. In antiquity, the inferiority of the ugly and defective caused exhilaration in the one who felt superior. The Greek term aischros means the opposite of kalos, and has the double meaning of ugly and shameful.64 To be ugly was to be shameful and therefore ridiculous. Laughter in antiquity had two functions, to integrate and to exclude; one released tension and one created it.65 It was not a priori effective, but rather had to be carried out in the right place and at the right time. For example, exaggerated laughter, especially in the wrong place and at the wrong time, could be embarrassing. The close relation between laughter and the ugly suggests that the exclusionary and discriminatory aspect of laughter was much more important in antiquity than it is today.66 Laughter had a special meaning within the Greek culture of shame, and also within the strictly organized society of the Archaic and Classic period.67 An individual’s identity was based on appreciation by the community – someone who did not correspond to the ideal of kalokagathia risked being excluded by ridicule and laughter.68 So laughter could be a powerful instrument for social control.

  • 69 Regarding the relation of laughter and mimesis and katharsis see Voegtle (2015, 86–89).
  • 70 Arist., Poet. 2.1448 a 16–18.
  • 71 Golden 1992, 93.

18Another important aspect of kalokagathia is katharsis69 that is a result of laughter. Katharsis is best understood in relation to the theater, where it was intentionally created. Aristotle writes in his Poetics that in tragedy people are represented as better than in their normal state, and comedy represents them as worse.70 We identify with people in a tragedy, and often feel compassion as result. In antiquity, comedy depicted people as ridiculous, and such people were thus thought to be inferior. They bring forth our negative feelings, and not our compassion. Golden describes the comic catharsis in analogy to the tragic one as a process of purification – not of pity and fear but of indignation: “We will feel indignation, but this indignation will be incorporated into the essential intellectual pleasure that all forms of mimesis generate. Moreover, those comic actions which do approach an emotional threshold of pain are regularly relieved by farcical interventions that make it impossible to sustain a painful response. Thus Aristotle is quite correct when he states that comic mimesis presents ignoble action and character in a painless and nondestructive way (Poetics 1449 a 34–37), and we are justified in seeing that our emotional response of indignation to the circumstances of comic mimesis, while associated with a pejorative intellectual judgment, will be as immune from true pain as are those comic events themselves.“71

  • 72 Hubbard (1991, 9), referring to Freud: “… we laugh at the behavior of another by comparing it with (...)
  • 73 Voegtle 2015, 214; see also Kenner 1960, 69.

19In antiquity, the reaction to feelings generated by the ugly and the ridiculous was laughter. This same reaction can also be observed when we laugh from relief where there is a sudden loss of tension or removal of danger: The one who laughs feels superior and safe.72 Also in antiquity, laughter released from the negative feelings one had towards the ugly. It contained, therefore, a cathartic effect that could be isolated and exploited. Not only was the ugly in this case apotropaic, but also the laughter it provoked.73 Additionally, the above-mentioned principle of analogy prevented evil from approaching its own ugly representation. So, to confront the ugly, there were two ways to proceed: If one’s intention was good, laughter would save oneself from the danger of evil. If it was bad, one was fixed by the representation of the ugly itself.

Conclusions about the Ticino figurine

  • 74 Winkler-Horaček 2008, 513, 516–517.

20The Ticino cock figurine combines two main characteristics that made it a figure with a protective, apotropaic function. Those characteristics are a grotesque human form combined with those of the cock. Such a hybridized figure is not accidental. The blending of human and animal in antiquity symbolized the crossing of boundaries. For example, the sphinxes on Etruscan vases can be seen as an allegory for the expansion of the Greeks to far away regions, such as the colonies,74 and the dangers of those foreign places were symbolized by monsters such as Scylla and Charybdis.

  • 75 See Lonsdale (1979, 151) for the dog.
  • 76 Initially, it is important to stress that the type of connection made between the divine and the b (...)
  • 77 Padgett 2003, 65–66.
  • 78 Vierneisel-Schlörb 1997, 164; Huysecom 2003, 98–100; Mitchell 2007, 283. Cf. the cock on the shield (...)

21Despite a capacity to unite by crossing boundaries, the relationship of human and animal in the ancient world remained ambivalent and complex. Man was confronted with the uncontrollable by both the god and the animal. Even pets, animals nearest to humans, were considered part of nature’s wildness so the possibility remained that an animal could turn against a human at any moment.75 The strangeness of the relationship between human and animal was never completely overcome because an animal always seemed to have access to a sphere associated with the divine that was denied to humans.76 However, thanks to their special place between the poles of gods and humans, animals occupied an intermediary position that had an a priori capacity for protection and guidance. Some animals were especially qualified due to their (real or imaginary) characteristics and were used more often as a protective symbol. For example on tombstones (lions, dogs, sphinxes etc.) or temples, where acroteria or antefixes often appear in animal or hybrid form.77 They also can be found on the helmets, shields, and weapons of Greek and Roman soldiers, as well as on mosaics and wall paintings in houses. Some animal representations were used extensively as grave furnishings. The use of bird imagery, in particular, was widespread because it could have an apotropaic function.78

22On the basis of this fundamental notion, the Ticino bird-man figurine has several levels of meaning. The grotesque form of the hybrid creature has itself an apotropaic function that is required at the border of the afterworld, but it also evokes laughter that can act as a protective force.

23The attributes of the cock can give the deceased a social identity and represent its fulfillment. Finally, these attributes also allow the association of the figure with Hermes/Mercury, the god of light and guide of the souls, who assures a safe journey into the afterlife. While the provenance of the figurine discussed in this paper is not precisely known, what evidence we have points to its use as a grave furnishing.

Top of page

Bibliography

Allen, M.L. 1986. “The Terracotta Figurines from Karanis: A Study of Technique, Style, and Chronology in Fayoumic Coroplastics.” PhD diss. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan.

Aston, E. 2008. “Hybrid Cult Images in Ancient Greece: Animal, Human, God.” In Mensch und Tier in der Antike. Grenzziehung und Grenzüberschreitung. Symposion vom 7. bis 9. April 2005 in Rostock, edited by A. Alexandridis, M. Wild and L. Winkler-Horaček, 481–502. Wiesbaden: Reichert.

Assmann, J. 2002. “Du siehst mit dem Kopf eines Gottes. Gesicht und Maske im ägyptischen Kult.” In Die Sprache der Masken, edited by T. Schabert, 149–169. Würzburg: Königshausen und Neumann.

Bohak, G. 2015. “Amulets.” In A Companion to the Archaeology of Religion in the Ancient World, edited by R. Raja and R. Rüpke, 83–95. Chichester: Wiley Blackwell.

Boutantin, C. 2014. Terres cuites et culte domestique: bestiaire de l’Égypte gréco-romaine. Leiden: Brill.

Brown, C.G. 1989. “Ares, Aphrodite, and the Laughter of the Gods.” Phoenix 43:283–293.

D’Ambrosio, A., and M. Borriello. 1990. Le terrecotte figurate di Pompei. Rome: L’Erma di Bretschneider.

Dasen, V. 2015. “Probaskania: Amulets and Magic in Antiquity.” In The Materiality of Magic, edited by D. Boschung and J.N. Bremmer, 177–203. Paderborn: Wilhelm Fink.

Dasen, V. 2015. “Des Patèques aux ‘nains ventrus’ : circulation et transformation d’une image.” In Figurines grecques en contexte : présence muette dans le sanctuaire, la tombe et la maison, edited by S. Huysecom-Haxhi and A. Muller, 35–51. Villeneuve d’Ascq : Presses Universitaires du Septentrion.

Dasen, V. 2010. “Archéologie funéraire et histoire de l’enfance dans l’Antiquité: nouveaux enjeux, nouvelles perspectives.” In L’Enfant et la mort dans l’Antiquité. Vol. 1, Nouvelles recherches dans les necropolis grecques: le signalement des tombes d’enfants, edited by A.-M. Guimer-Sorbets and Y. Morizot, 19–32. Paris: De Boccard.

Dasen, V. 2003. “Amulettes d’enfants dans le monde grec et romain” Latomus 62:275–289.

Deonna, W. 1910. “Quelques monuments antiques trouvés en Suisse.” Anzeiger für Schweizerische Altertumskunde 12:7–21.

Dillon, M. 1991. “Tragic Laughter.” CW 84:345–355.

Dodds, E.R. 1951. The Greeks And The Irrational. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Laforge, M.-O. 2009. La religion privée à Pompei. Naples: Centre Jean Bérard.

Faraone, C.A. 2013. “Heraclean Labors on Ancient Greek Amulets: Myth into Magic or Magic into Myth.” In Mito y Magia en Grecia y Roma, edited by E. Suarez de la Torre and A. Pérez Jiménez, 85–102. Barcelona: Libros Protico.

Faraone, C.A. 1992. Talismans and Trojan Horses: Guardian Statues in Ancient Greek Myth and Ritual. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Faraone, C.A. 1991. “Binding and Burying the Forces of Evil: The Defensive Use of ‘Voodoo Dolls’ in Ancient Greece.” ClAnt 10:165–205.

Fischer, J. 1994. Griechisch-römische Terrakotten aus Ägypten. Die Sammlungen Sieglin und Schreiber. Tübinger Studien zur Archäologie und Kunstgeschichte 14. Tübingen: Wasmuth.

Frazer, J.G. 1996. The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion. Abridged ed. England: Penguin.

Garland, R. 2010. The Eye of the Beholder: Deformity and Disability in the Graeco-Roman World. 2nd ed. London: Bristol Classical Press.

Gilhus, I.S. 2006. Animals, Gods and Humans: Changing Attitudes to Animals in Greek, Roman and Early Christian Ideas. London: Routledge.

Giuliani, L. 1987. “Die seligen Krüppel. Zur Deutung von Missgestalten in der hellenistischen Kleinkunst.” AA 1987:701–721.

Giuman, M. 2013. Archeologia dello sguardo: fascinazione e “baskania” nel mondo classico. Rome: Giorgio Bretschneider.

Golden, L. 1992. Aristotle on Tragic and Comic Mimesis. Atlanta: Scholars Press.

Graepler, D. 1997. Tonfiguren im Grab. Fundkontexte hellenistischer Terrakotten aus der Nekropole von Tarent. München: Biering und Brinkmann.

Graf, F. 1996. Gottesnähe und Schadenzauber. Die Magie in der griechisch-römischen Antike. München: C.H. Beck.

Gutch, C. 1898/99. “Excavations at Naukratis. D: The Terracottas.” BSA 5:67–97.

Hackin, J. 1954. Nouvelles recherches archéologiques à Begram. Paris : Presses Universitaires de France.

Halliwell, S. 2008. Greek Laughter: A Study of Cultural Psychology from Homer to Early Christianity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Higgins, R.A. 1954. Catalogue of the Terracottas in the Departement of Greek and Roman Antiquities British Museum. Vol 1. London: British Museum.

Himmelmann, N. 1994. Realistische Themen in der griechischen Kunst der archaischen und klassischen Zeit. JdI-EH 28. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

Himmelmann, N. 1983. Alexandria und der Realismus in der griechischen Kunst. Tübingen: Wasmuth.

Hubbard, T.K. 1991. The Mask of Comedy. Aristophanes and the Intertextual Parabasis. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Huysecom, S. 2003. “Terres cuites animales dans les nécropoles archaïques et classiques du bassin méditerranéen.” Anthropozoologica 38: 91–104.

Huysecom-Haxhi, S. 2015. “Du coq au canthare. Images de l’initiation masculine dans la coroplathie béotienne à l’époque classique.” In Figurines grecques en contexte : présence muette dans le sanctuaire, la tombe et la maison, edited by S. Huysecom-Haxhi and A. Muller, 71–89. Villeneuve d’Ascq : Presses Universitaires du Septentrion.

Huysecom-Haxhi, S., and A. Muller. 2015. “Figurines en contexte, de l’identification à la fonction : vers une archéologie de la religion.” In Figurines grecques en contexte : présence muette dans le sanctuaire, la tombe et la maison, edited by S. Huysecom-Haxhi and A. Muller, 421–438. Villeneuve d’Ascq : Presses Universitaires du Septentrion.

Kaufmann, C.M. 1915. Graeco-ägyptische Koroplastik. Terrakotten der griechisch-römischen und koptischen Epoche aus der Faijûm-Oase und andren Fundstätten. Leipzig: Finck.

Kaufmann-Heinimann, A. 1994. Die römischen Bronzen der Schweiz. Vol 5. Mainz: Von Zabern.

Kenner, H. 1960. Weinen und Lachen in der griechischen Kunst. Wien: Rohrer.

Kippenberg, H.G. 1998. “Magie.” In Handbuch religionswissenschaftlicher Grundbegriffe. Vol. 4, edited by H. Cancik et al., 85–98. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer.

Kozanli, C. 2015. “Trois tombes d’enfants de la nécropole de Parion.” In Figurines de terre cuite en Méditerranée grecque et romaine, edited by A. Muller and E. Lafli, 385–398. Villeneuve d’Ascq : Presses Universitaires du Septentrion.

Kullmann, W. 1995. “Die antiken Philosophen und das Lachen.” In Laughter down the Centuries. Vol. 2, edited by S. Jäkel and A. Timonen, 79–98. Turku: Turun Yliopisto.

Lorenz, K. 2005. “Die Quadratur des Sofabildes. Pompejanische Mythenbilder als Ausgangspunkt für eine Phänomenologie antiker Wahrnehmung.” In Lebenswelten. Bilder und Räume in der römischen Stadt der Kaiserzeit, edited by R. Neudecker and P. Zanker, 205–221. Wiesbaden: Reichert.

Lonsdale, S.H. 1979. “Attitudes towards Animals in Ancient Greece.” GaR 26:146–159.

Meyer, M.F. 2011. “Scham im klassischen griechischen Denken.” In Zur Kulturgeschichte der Scham, edited by M. Bauks and M. F. Meyet, 35–54. Hamburg: Felix Meiner Verlag.

Mitchell, J. 2007. “Keeping the Demons Out of the House: The Archaeology of Apotropaic Strategy and Practice in Late Antique Butrint and Antigoneia.” In Objects in Context, Objects in Use: Material Spatiality in Late Antiquity, edited by L. Lavan, E. Swift, and T. Putzeys, 273–310. Leiden: Brill

Nachtergael, G. 1985. “Les terres cuites ‘du Fayoum’ dans les maisons de l’Égypte romaine.” ChrEg 60:223–239.

Nenna, M.-D. 2012. “Le mobilier déposé dans les sépultures d’enfants en Afrique du Nord à l’époque romaine.” In L’enfant et la mort dans l’antiquité. Vol 3, le matériel associé aux tombes d’enfants, edited by A. Hermary and C. Dubois, 273–290. Arles: Editions Errance.

Nenova-Merdjanova, R. 2000. “Images of Bronze Against the Evil Eye: Beyond the Typological and Functional Interpretation of Roman Bronze Vessels for Oil.” KölnJb 33:303–312.

Padgett, J.M. 2003. The Centaur’s Smile: The Human Animal in Early Greek Art. Exhibiton in the Princeton University Art Museum from 11 October 2003 to 18 January 2004. Princeton: Princeton University Art Museum.

Peredolskaja, A.A. 1964. Attische Tonfiguren aus einem südrussischen Grab. AntK-BH 2. Olten: Urs Graf-Verlag.

Perdrizet, P. 1911. Bronzes grecs d’Égypte de la collection Fouquet. Paris: s.n.

Pollitt, J.J. 2006. Art in the Hellenistic Age. 12th ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Rabeisen, E., and H. Vertet. 1986. Les figurines gallo-romaines en terre cuite d’Alesia. Dijon: Centre de recherches sur les techniques gréco-romaines.

Rumscheid, F. 2006. Die figürlichen Terrakotten von Priene. Fundkontexte, Ikonographie und Funktion in Wohnhäusern und Heiligtümern im Licht antiker Parallelbefunde. Wiesbaden: Reichert.

Schlesier, R. 1990. “Apotropäisch.” In Handbuch religionswissenschaftlicher Grundbegriffe. Vol. 2, edited by H. Cancik, 41–45. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer.

Schwarzmeier, A. 2015. “Terrakotten in der Nekropole von Lipari.” In Figurines grecques en contexte : présence muette dans le sanctuaire, la tombe et la maison, edited by S. Huysecom-Haxhi and A. Muller, 233–243. Villeneuve d’Ascq : Presses Universitaires du Septentrion.

Selekou, M. 2015. “Animal Terracottas from Children Graves at Opuntian Locris.” In Figurines de terre cuite en Méditerranée grecque et romaine, edited by A. Muller and E. Lafli, 357–362. Villneuve d’Ascq: Presses Universitaires du Septentrion.

Simonett, C. 1941. Tessiner Gräberfelder. Ausgrabungen des archäologischen Arbeitsdienstes in Solduno, Locarno-Muralto, Minusio und Stabio 1936 und 1937. Basel: Birkhäuser.

Strubbe, J.H.M. 1991. “Curse Be He That Moves my Bones”, In Magika Hiera: Ancient Greek Magic and Religion, edited by C.A. Faraone and D. Obbink, 33–59. New York: Oxford University Press.

Vernant, J.-P. 1990. Figures, idoles, masques. Paris: Juillard.

Vierneisel-Schlörb, B. 1997. Die figürlichen Terrakotten. Vol. 1, Spätmykenisch bis späthellenistisch. Kerameikos 4. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

Voegtle, S. 2015. Dein Gott ist ein Esel. Griechische und römische Tierkarikaturen als Spiegel antiker Wertvorstellungen, Ph.D. diss., Universität Bern. http://boris.unibe.ch/63964/.

Von Gonzenbach, V. 1995. Die römischen Terracotten in der Schweiz. Untersuchungen zur Zeitstellung, Typologie und Ursprung der mittelgallischen Tonstatuetten. Vol. A. Tübingen: Francke.

Von Gonzenbach, V. 1986. Die römischen Terracotten in der Schweiz. Untersuchungen zur Zeitstellung, Typologie und Ursprung der mittelgallischen Tonstatuetten. Vol. B. Bern: Francke.

Veyne, P. 2005. L’empire gréco-romain. Paris: Editions du Seuil.

Winkler-Horaček, L. 2008. “Fiktionale Grenzräume im frühen Griechenland.” In Mensch und Tier in der Antike. Grenzziehung und Grenzüberschreitung. Symposion vom 7. bis 9. April 2005 in Rostock, edited by A. Alexandridis, M. Wild and L. Winkler-Horaček, 503–525. Wiesbaden: Reichert.

Zanker, P. 1995. Die Maske des Sokrates. Das Bild des Intellektuellen in der antiken Kunst. München: C.H. Beck.

Top of page

Notes

1 The legibility of this text owes much to Andrew Lawrence and Lawrence Desmond, who I would like to thank for their help. I have also benefitted from the remarks of my reviewers.

2 There were regular excavation campaigns in 1936/37 and 1947, but our object was probably found before that time (Von Gonzenbach 1986, 34; Simonett 1941, 1–2).

3 H 13 cm, W max 12 cm. Bern (Hist. Mus. 16213). Voegtle 2015, 158–160; Von Gonzenbach 1995, 176–177, fig. 55 a, pl. 3, 2; 29, 2.

4 Von Gonzenbach 1986, 31–34; Von Gonzenbach 1995, 80.

5 Von Gonzenbach 1995, 257, fig. 103, 1, pl. 30, 4 as well as pl. 30, 1.

6 Perdrizet 1911, 60 no. 97, pl. 28.

7 Hackin 1954, 147–148, 284 no. 177, fig. 328, 455. The object is dated to the first century B.C.E. (Von Gonzenbach 1995, 177; Hackin 1954, 14).

8 Von Gonzenbach 1995, 176; for the dating see Von Gonzenbach 1995, 80.

9 Ael. NA 3.31; see also Neue Pauly 5:750, s.v. “Huhn (Hahn)” (C. Hünemörder).

10 For example Kaufmann-Heinimann 1994, 7–9 no. 4, pl. 7 and 19–21 no. 15, pl. 20.

11 H 20.2 cm. London (BM 1814,0704.415), first century C.E.

12 Cf. a bronze statuette of Mercury in Bloomington (Indiana Univ. Art Mus. 74.20), dating to the second or first century B.C.E. There is another polyphallic Mercury-tintinnabulum in the National Museum of Naples (Inv. 27854), where the god wears the petasos.

13 Dasen 2015, 185–187.

14 Deonna 1910, 17 (esp. n. 3).

15 Berlin, Antikensammlung F2095, 525–475 B.C.E.

16 Aristot., Phgn. 810 a 30–31.

17 Aristot., Phgn. 810 a 38–811 b 2, 812 b 11–12.

18 Higgins 1954, 220, pl. 112. Regarding the identification of the statuettes see Huysecom-Haxhi (2015, 81–82).

19 Kozanli 2015, 386–391, 393. The animal caricature represented by the monkey in my opinion is a special form of the grotesque (Voegtle 2015, 136–140).

20 Huysecom 2003, 98; Dasen 2010, 29.

21 For some examples from Rhodes, not necessarily from children’s graves, see Higgins (1954, 78–79, pl. 34–35).

22 Huysecom-Haxhi 2015, 83–85.

23 Voegtle 2015, 14–16.

24 While the so-called ‘genre’ statues are part of Greek large-scale sculpture, the grotesques appear in the form of terracotta and bronze statuettes and are part of the minor arts. About the influences between the two types, see Himmelmann 1983, 24–27; Zanker 1989, 31, 44–48; Fischer 1994, 69–70. Pollitt (2006, 142–143 and 146) writes on the ‘social realism’ of ‘genre’ figures: “On balance, it does seem likely that the originals of the old women and fishermen were Hellenistic and that they reflect a peculiar mixture of poetic fantasy and social realism. Which of these qualities is dominant in them will always depend on the subjective reaction of individual viewers. Whatever the truth is in their case, however, there is no doubt that an uncompromising social realism did play an important role in Hellenistic art and is, in fact, one of its most original features.”

25 Giuliani 1987, 714–718; Voegtle 2013, 106–107, 206.

26 For more examples, using mostly animal features to deform a human figure see Voegtle 2015, 143–188.

27 Himmelmann 1983, 41; Giuliani 1987, 704; Fischer 1994, 63. Certain grotesque figures like the Egyptian god Bes (and its Greek adaptions) had special functions. Worn as an amulet it protected pregnant women and newborn children (Dasen 2015, 42, 46–47).

28 While other terms for amulets as phylakterion or periamma refer unambiguously to their aim and use (Bohak 2015, 87), the word baskanion derives from baskainein ‘bewitch, envy’ and means ‘malign influences’ (baskania), as well as ‘charm’ and ‘amulet’ (LSJ9, 310). The ambiguity/double meaning of the visible form is thus reflected in the term (similar to the Latin word fascinum).

29 Poll., 7.108.

30 Phrynichos, 68 (Rutherford).

31 Vita Aesopi 3.12.2.

32 Plut., Quaest. conv. 5.7 (681–682).

33 Varro, Ling.7.97.

34 Assmann 2002, 150; Rumscheid 2006, 126; Voegtle 2015, 15–16.

35 Dasen 2015, 39. In general see Kaufmann 1915, 37; Himmelmann 1994, 90; Rumscheid 2006, 301.

36 Allen 1986, 241–242; Rabeisen and Vertet 1986, 54–57; Rumscheid 2006, 76–123. Almost 400 terracotta figurines were found in the domestic quarter of Naukratis (Gutch 1898/99, 67).

37 In Pompeji, 44 figurines were probably found in houses and shops (D’Ambrosio and Borriello 1990, 81 no. 210, pl. 33, 104, 107). For Alesia see Rabeisen and Vertet 1986, 54, 154–155, 179.

38 Allen 1986, 136. 460–465 nos. 104–106, 468–469 no. 108.

39 Rumscheid 2006, 290–301 (six were provably found in houses, one in a shop).

40 Late fourth century B.C.E. (Faraone 1992, 8; Rumscheid 2006, 129, 301).

41 Nachtergael 1985, 235–236; Von Gonzenbach 1995, 421; Rumscheid 2006, 126–127; Laforge 2009, 19–25; Boutantin 2014, 114–120.

42 Mitchell 2007, 281–289; Faraone 2013, 93–94.

43 Lorenz 2005, 205–209, 217–219.

44 Nenova-Merdjanova 2000, 303, 312.

45 Voegtle 2015, 210–211.

46 Graepler 1997, 238; Huysecom 2003, 94–95.

47 Graepler 1997, 238.

48 Graepler 1997, 242.

49 Himmelmann 1994, 103–107. Further examples are known from Myrina (Rumscheid, 2006, 176, 301). An ensemble of grotesques, actor figurines, and animals was found in a grave in Bolschaja Blisnitza on the peninsula of Taman (Peredolskaja 1964, pl. 1, fourth century B.C.E.).

50 Von Gonzenbach 1986, 63–65 pl. 38–39. See Huysecom (2003, 92–94, 97, Sindos) for more examples.

51 Huysecom 2003, 97; Nenna 2012, 281, fig. 16; Selekou 2015, 358–359. The above-mentioned grave of a little child of 3 to 9 months in Parion (Mysia) contained 73 terracotta figurines, 29 of them were animals (thereof 12 dogs, see Kozanli 2015, 386) and one was a grotesque.

52 Graepler 1997, 153; Boutantin 2014, 129–131; Selekou 2015, 361.

53 Covering different Greek and Roman sites and epochs: Graepler 1997, 155–557; Huysecom 2003, 100–101; Dasen 2010, 25–30; Nenna 2012, 290; Huysecom-Haxhi and Muller 2015, 433–434; Schwarzmeier 2015, 239–240.

54 For example, the ‘dolls’ that often were part of the “maiden’s kit” in the graves of young girls “n’ont probablement jamais servi de divertissement profane,” but symbolized their future as a mother and married woman that was yet to come – it was hoped even in the afterlife (Dasen 2010, 26, 29). Similar, the animal figurines from the children’s tombs of the Kerameikos in Athens were produced only for the grave and had never been used as a toy (Vierneisel-Schlörb 1997, 166).

55 Dasen 2003, e.g. 286–289; Dasen 2015, 46.

56 It is also interesting to note that the deceased not only had to be protected from the possible dangers of the realm of the dead, but also from grave desecration by the living. As Strubbe (Strubbe 1991, 37–38) has shown regarding funerary imprecations, the measures were the same that were used to protect objects of the real world. There apparently was a particular importance given to protecting the graves of children (Strubbe 1991, 42).

57 See Veyne (2005, 9–10) regarding the cultural proximity of the Greek and Roman epochs.

58 See for example Garland 2010, 105.

59 Schlesier 1990, 41–42. Apotropaic deities were, for example, Hades, Athena and Apollo.

60 Faraone 1991, 168–169 with note 11; Faraone 1992, 117–119; Voegtle 2015, 216. It is obvious in discussions concerning apotropaic notions that the subject of magic is not a distant topic. There still is no agreement on a standard term for magic (Graf 1996, 18–21; Kippenberg 1998, 85–86; Neue Pauly 7:664–665, s.v. “Magie, Magier” (F. Graf and S. Iles-Johnston), whose complex subject is beyond the scope of this paper. The definition of the principles of magic given by J.G. Frazer in The Golden Bough however is still influential and, in my opinion, useful. See Frazer 1996, 13: “If we analyze the principles of thought on which magic is based, they will probably be found to resolve themselves into two: first, that like produces like, or that an effect resembles its cause; and, second, that things which have once been in contact with each other continue to act on each other at a distance after the physical contact has been severed. The former principle may be called the Law of Similarity, the latter the Law of Contact or Contagion.”

61 Vernant (1990, 88) points to the close relation of Gorgon and Artemis: “Par certains de ses aspects Gorgô apparaît comme la face sombre, le revers sinistre de la Grande déesse dont Artémis tout spécialement prendra en charge l’héritage.” Artemis in turn was counted among the apotropaioi theoi (Schlesier 1990, 42).

62 Vernant 1990, 124–126. Giuman (2013, 60–67) also discusses the question of the efficiency of the projected image (eidolon). He deduces from certain sources (Pseudo-Apollodorus and Platon) that the eidolon as an imitation had no power whatsoever. In view of the many archaeological and textual references to the contrary, this seems to me to be a too limited a view.

63 Schlesier 1990, 43–44, also for the difficulties regarding the utilization of the term.

64 LSJ9, 43.

65 For example Voegtle 2015, 90–92.

66 Halliwell 2008, 244.

67 Brown 1989, 288–292; Dillon 1991, 347–348, 354–355; Kullmann 1995, 81; Zanker 1995, 53–54; Meyer 2011, 35–37. The terme shame culture was created by Dodds, who, although referring to the world of Homer, assumes that this mentality continued to be important (Dodds 1951, 18): “In such a society, anything which exposes a man to the contempt or ridicule of his fellows, which causes him to ‘lose face’, is felt as unbearable.”

68 There are examples from real life, as well as from the mythological sphere (Voegtle 2015, 89–91, 93–94).

69 Regarding the relation of laughter and mimesis and katharsis see Voegtle (2015, 86–89).

70 Arist., Poet. 2.1448 a 16–18.

71 Golden 1992, 93.

72 Hubbard (1991, 9), referring to Freud: “… we laugh at the behavior of another by comparing it with what we would do in his place. Objects are comic if they expend more energy in physical motions than we would or less than we would in intellectual acts. In both cases laughter comes from a pleasurably conceived feeling of superiority. At the same time the feeling of superiority is accompanied by memory of an averted, superfluous anxiety over our own powers of mastery. On a level of mimetic projection, this infantile regression expresses the same tendency evident in a child’s play – namely, joyful repetition of an activity once perceived as dangerous but now functionally mastered and harmless.”

73 Voegtle 2015, 214; see also Kenner 1960, 69.

74 Winkler-Horaček 2008, 513, 516–517.

75 See Lonsdale (1979, 151) for the dog.

76 Initially, it is important to stress that the type of connection made between the divine and the bestial varied: animals either partook of the divine, appeared as symbols, were attributes of divinities, or were used as instruments. These four types of relationship between animals and gods varied regionally, depending on the different cultures and religions of the empire.” Gilhus 2006, 94–95. See also Aston 2008, 492–494; Voegtle 2015, 79–82.

77 Padgett 2003, 65–66.

78 Vierneisel-Schlörb 1997, 164; Huysecom 2003, 98–100; Mitchell 2007, 283. Cf. the cock on the shield of a warrior on a black-figure amphora in Munich (Staatliche Antikensammlungen 1408).

Top of page

List of illustrations

Title Fig. 1: Terracotta figurine of a ‘cockman.’ Bern (Hist. Mus. 16213)
Credits © Historisches Museum Bern (picture S. Voegtle)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/acost/docannexe/image/945/img-1.jpg
File image/jpeg, 108k
Title Fig. 2: Bronze head of a ‘cockman.’ After Perdrizet 1911, 60 no. 97, pl. 28
URL http://journals.openedition.org/acost/docannexe/image/945/img-2.jpg
File image/jpeg, 100k
Title Fig. 3: Bronze figurine of a ‘cockman.’ After Hackin 1954, 284 no. 177, fig. 328
URL http://journals.openedition.org/acost/docannexe/image/945/img-3.jpg
File image/jpeg, 192k
Title Fig. 5: Tintinnabulum. London (BM 1814,0704.415)
Credits © Trustees of the British Museum
URL http://journals.openedition.org/acost/docannexe/image/945/img-4.jpg
File image/jpeg, 72k
Title Fig. 6: Terracotta figurine of a young man. London (BM 1931.2–16.33); after Higgins 1954, 220 no. 822, pl. 112
URL http://journals.openedition.org/acost/docannexe/image/945/img-5.jpg
File image/jpeg, 60k
Title Fig. 4: Grotesque bronze figurine. Hamburg (Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe 1949.40); after Himmelmann 1983, pl. 45
URL http://journals.openedition.org/acost/docannexe/image/945/img-6.jpg
File image/jpeg, 99k
Top of page

References

Electronic reference

Simone Voegtle, « A Grotesque Terracotta Figurine of the First Century C.E. from Muralto, Ticino, Switzerland: Function, Use, and Meaning », Les Carnets de l’ACoSt [Online], 15 | 2016, Online since 02 November 2016, connection on 10 December 2017. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/acost/945

Top of page

Copyright

Licence Creative Commons
Les Carnets de l'ACoSt est mis à disposition selon les termes de la licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 4.0 International.

Top of page
  • Logo Association for Coroplastic Studies
  • OpenEdition Journals