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Shield Strap with Mythological Scenes
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This image is available for download, without charge, under the Getty's Open Content Program.

Signed by Aristodamos of Argos
Greek, Argos, about 575 B.C.
Bronze
6 3/8 x 3 1/8 in.
84.AC.11

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Vivid scenes drawn from Greek mythology decorate the small surviving portion of this thin bronze strip. The top panel shows Menelaos, king of Sparta, reclaiming his wife Helen after the Trojan War, which had been caused by Helen's desertion of Menelaos for her lover Paris, prince of Troy. At the right, looking on, is the goddess Athena, identified by the name written beside her in Greek. The lower panel shows the centaur Nessos abducting Deianeira, the wife of the hero Herakles.

This piece comes from a strap on the inside of a shield. In the early 500s B.C., the leather strap on a shield's interior was often decorated with strips of bronze showing mythological scenes or monsters. Many such straps come from the Sanctuary of Zeus at Olympia, where worshippers left elaborate shields as dedications or gifts to the gods. The city of Argos in southern Greece was the major production site of this art form. Although many shield straps include writing that identifies the mythological figures, the lower panel of this strap displays the artist's signature, a rarity in this medium and one of the earliest such occurrences in all of Greek art.

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Signature
Signature