The CBd
Bonner, SMA, 122.

in many turns round her hips and legs. At the left below kneels a small Eros, who is drawing the cord tight. Since the female figure has no wings, one might take it to represent Aphrodite, for it is a poetic commonplace that the little Eros did not spare his mother; but I know of no certain instance in which he is represented as binding her. It is more likely to be Psyche, who is sometimes wingless on gems of this kind. There is a possible objection to that interpretation, on the ground that Psyche is shown as full-grown, while Eros is a child. But when he plays the part of the mischievous tormentor, not the lover of Psyche, the difference in size and apparent age is natural enough; the same disparity is to be observed on the now lost Pompeian painting which represented Psyche bound and threatened with a torch by a little Eros, in the presence of Nemesis and other figures.70 An inscription ποθες round the edge of the Newell gem is probably an error for πόθος, love-longing.

No exactly similar design seems to have been published, but an “Italic paste,” in the British Museum, which Walters places in the republican period, must be somewhat similar; unfortunately no illustration was supplied.71 The description is as follows: “Eros kneeling to r. with wings erect, binding the feet of Psyche, who stands before him placing r. hand on his head; she is wingless and is draped in a himation, with hair in a knot at the back.”

A yellow jasper in the collection of Mr. H. Seyrig represents an Eros standing to right, holding an inverted torch in his lowered right hand, while the left holds a trident resting against his upper arm.72 This unusual attribute may be explained, as Mr. Seyrig suggests, by the use of the trident as a weapon in the combats of certain gladiators; but while the idea of Love armed for combat is not strange, it is surprising that such a weapon should be given him. The design tells us nothing of the exact purpose for which it was intended, but a magical word at the bottom of the stone, οχωρωφψς, shows that it was a talisman of some sort, presumably for luck in love affairs. The reverse has the name Iao with a palm leaf above it and a garland below, both symbols of victory.

70 Roscher, III, 161–162, fig. 7; so also in B. M. Cat. Gems, 1463, Pl. 20.

71 B. M. Cat. Gems, 1107.

72 D. 160.

Last modified: 2012-11-05 11:16:45