Statuette of a Griffin Devouring an Arimasp
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Bruce White Photography
Gift of Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman

Greek, 125 - 75 B.C.
3 1/8 in.

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Holding an arm in its beak, a griffin, a creature part eagle, part lion, and part snake, mauls a young Arimasp wearing only a helmet. The creature's front paw presses on the youth's head as he tears the lifeless body limb from limb. In Greek mythology, griffins lived far to the north of the civilized world and guarded large deposits of gold. They were in constant conflict with the Arimasps, a tribe of one-eyed people, who regularly tried to steal the gold. Although literary sources always describe the Arimasps as one-eyed, visual artists did not follow this convention as seen here. Greek artists usually indicated that the Arimasps were uncivilized by dressing them in barbarian clothing; this nude rendering is unusual. Traces of an attachment on top of the statuette suggest that this group was originally part of some larger object or composition.