The J. Paul Getty Museum

Statuette of Odysseus under a Ram

Object Details


Statuette of Odysseus under a Ram




Greek (Sicilian)


Sicily, Italy (Place Created)


525–500 B.C.


Terracotta with paste (milk of lime) and polychromy (pink)

Object Number:



14.2 × 16.7 cm (5 9/16 × 6 9/16 in.)

Credit Line:

Gift of Lee Rizzuto

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Object Description

A human figure appears to cling to the underside of this ram, his head emerging between its forelegs. Although the meaning of the statuette may be hard to determine today, an ancient Greek would have recognized a reference to a scene from the epic poem the Odyssey by Homer. In the poem, Odysseus and his men escape from the man‑eating, one‑eyed giant Polyphemos by tying themselves to the undersides of the giant's sheep when he sends them out to graze. The escape from the cave was the most popular episode from the Odyssey represented in Greek art. Especially common in the 500s B.C, it appeared in every artistic medium in both the Greek homeland and the colonies. 

Terracotta figurines like this one may have been children's toys. They were frequently dedicated in sanctuaries as gifts to the gods

by 1971

Alex G. Malloy (New York, New York)

by 1977 - 1979

Lee Rizzuto (Lakewood, New Jersey), donated to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1979.

SICILY: Art and Invention between Greece and Rome (April 3, 2013 to June 15, 2014)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Villa (Malibu), April 3 to August 19, 2013
  • The Cleveland Museum of Art (Cleveland), September 29, 2013 to January 5, 2014

Alex G. Malloy. Ancient Art and Antiquities II. Catalogue. (New York: Alex Malloy, 1971), pp. 13, 16, no. 84, ill.

Lyons, Claire L., Michael Bennett, and Clemente Marconi, eds. Sicily: Art and Invention between Greece and Rome (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2013), p. 191, ill.

Ferruzza, Maria Lucia. Ancient Terracottas from South Italy and Sicily in the J. Paul Getty Museum. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2016), no. 54, ill.

Education Resources
Education Resources

Education Resource




The Odyssey: Spoken, Written, Illustrated, and Performed

Students will read a story from The Odyssey by the Greek poet Homer and write, illustrate and perform in response to elements of the story.

Visual Arts; English–Language Arts; History–Social Science; Theater

3-5; 6-8

Three/Five-Part Lesson