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Greek Models - XXXVIII: Antinous as Agathodaimon | by Egisto Sani
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Greek Models - XXXVIII: Antinous as Agathodaimon

Statue with head portrait of Antinous. The head is non pertinent to the larger-than-life statue representing Agathodaimon (protective spirit) or Dionysos.

The statue represents a standing man; his right leg supports the body weight, the left is slightly forward and bent. He is wearing a cloak which obliquely covers his legs and the lower part of his body. The right arm is lowered, slightly moved away from the hip; the hand holds a small scepter. The lowerd left hand is open and rests on a narrow cornucopia around which a scaly snake is coiled. From the cornucopia a large bunch of grapes with vine leafs springs out. On the two side of the cornucopia there are pomegranates. The attributes - horn of plenty, pomegranates, bunch of grapes - suggest the identification of this character as Dionysos. Anyway, these fruits are goods suggesting another divinity, Agathodaimon, a kind of personal protective spirit, symbol of prosperity and health, etc.. This god could be intended as the male counterpart of the goddess Tyche/Fortuna.

The statue dates back from Hadrian's reign but it is not clear whether there were older models. According to some scholars this statue could have been inspired by "Bonus Eventus" (Agathodaimon), statue dating back from Praxiteles times, which, according to Pliny, nat. hist. 36.23, stood on the Capitol in Rome.


The head is tilted slightly forward and looks toward the snake. The portrayed young man is known by a huge list of archaeological sources. He is the Bithynian Antinous, whose fame descends from his close and intimate relationship with the emperor Hadrian. The Berlin head shows Antinous deified shortly after his dead in ca. 130 AD. His face is beautiful and youthful, crowned by curly hair, and rendered with ideal facial features. Rows of curls form pincer motifs over his forehead; the profile view shows superimposed staggered curls covering completely his ears. The face of Antinous has an oval contour with rounded cheeks and small mouth. In analogy to other Antinous' portraits his visage was correctly carved with plump lips, and small and narrow eyes. All these individual motifs contribute to create the youthful look of the sitter. This head portrait is the result of a careful sculptural work. The drill was only marginally used, and the chisel was used for the rendering of the hair curls in separated grooves.


Source: Antinous head & Agathodaimon staute @



Marble sculpture

Height: overall 237 cm; head 29 cm

130-137 DC

Berlin, Altes Museum


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Taken on March 2, 2016