Thursday, December 15, 2016

Roman Ring Depicting Amalthea

Amalthea was the "tender goddess," often mentioned as the one who nursed Zeus in a Cretan cave. She was sometimes depicted as a mother goat, so that is probably what this ring represents. The ring dates to the 2nd century CE.

1 comment:

G. Verloren said...

If this is Amalthea tending to Zeus, then who is the second nursing figure? Zeus was the only one of Cronus' children not swallowed, after all.

I'm personally put much more in mind of Romulus and Remus, with the obvious difference that they were nursed by a wolf, not a goat. Is it not possible this popular motiff might have seen certain variations over time?

I'm also not entirely sure that the figures nursing are fully human. They seem to have the hooved legs of a goat, and possibly also tails and horns, or at least wild shocks of hair. Such features would neatly match the Roman representation of a satyr or faun (as opposed to the equine features of a Greek satyr), and also neatly explains the detail of nursing from a goat.

I'm not terribly familiar with significant satyr or faun figures, but if I had to take a wild stab in the dark, I'd suggest the possibility of this being a depiction of Faunus and Fauna as siblings. (Fauna was sometimes depicted as the wife or daughter of Faunus.) This would again fit neatly with Roman traditions, as they had a strong tendency to devise gender complimentary pairs of deities.