Limestone Geryon, Limestone, Cypriot

Limestone Geryon

2nd half of the 6th century B.C.
Overall: 20 7/8 x 15 1/4 x 10 1/8 in. (53 x 38.7 x 25.7 cm)
Stone Sculpture
Credit Line:
The Cesnola Collection, Purchased by subscription, 1874–76
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 174
In Greek mythology, Geryon was a three-bodied creature who lived far away in the West with his dog, a great herd of cattle, and a herdsman. One of the labors of the hero Herakles was to fetch the cattle for King Eurystheus of Tiryns (see the relief 74.51.2853). The sculptor here has dealt summarily but efficiently with Geryon's arms and legs. The major emphasis is on the decoration of the garment and shields. The skirt of the tunic shows a roughly heraldic scene of two men with large swords battling two rampant lions. The figure may be Herakles performing the feat that gained him the lionskin. The leftmost shield depicts Perseus, accompanied by Athena, beheading the Gorgon Medusa. On the central shield, Herakles carries away one of the Kerkopes while another attacks him. The right shield, now much damaged, shows Herakles shooting a centaur. One wonders whether Herakles the archer (74.51.2500) was taking aim at this Geryon.
Sanctuary of Golgoi–Ayios Photios

Cesnola, Luigi Palma di. 1885. A Descriptive Atlas of the Cesnola Collection of Cypriote Antiquities in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Vol. 1. pl. LXXXIII.544, Boston: James R. Osgood and Company.

Myres, John L. 1914. Handbook of the Cesnola Collection of Antiquities from Cyprus. no. 1292, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Tatton-Brown, Veronica. 1984. "Sculptors at Golgoi." Report of the Department of Antiquities, Cyprus (RDAC) p. 172, n. 31, pl. XXXIII:5.

Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae (LIMC). 1988. Vol. 4: Eros-Herakles. "Geryoneus," p. 187, no. 3, pl. 104, Zürich: Artemis Verlag.

1992. Vol. 6: Kentauroi-Oiax Kerkopes, no. 27, Zürich: Artemis Verlag.

Kossatz-Deissmann, Anneliese, Brigitte Servais-Soyez, Fulvio Canciani, Giovannangelo Camporeale, Hans Peter Isler, Ingrid Krauskopf, Odette Touchefeu-Meynier, Marcel Le Glay, and Dr. Jean-Charles Balty. 1994. Oidipous-Theseus, Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae, Vol. 7. Perseus, no. 125, Zürich: Artemis Verlag.

Karageorghis, Vassos, Joan Mertens, and Marice E. Rose. 2000. Ancient Art from Cyprus: The Cesnola Collection in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. no. 193, p. 128, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Karageorghis, Vassos. 2002. Early Cyprus: Crossroads of the Mediterranean. pl. 490, Los Angeles, California: J. Paul Getty Museum.

Picón, Carlos A. 2007. Art of the Classical World in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Greece, Cyprus, Etruria, Rome. no. 290, pp. 249, 463, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Stylianou, Andreas and Patrick Schollmeyer. 2007. "Der Sarkophag aus Golgoi." Dynastensarkophage mit szenischen Reliefs aus Byblos und Zypern: Der Sarkophag aus Amathous als Beispiel kontaktinduzierten Wandels, 2. no. 182, p. 216, pl. 50a, Mainz am Rhein: Philipp von Zabern.

Hermary, Antoine and Joan R. Mertens. 2013. The Cesnola Collection of Cypriot Art : Stone Sculpture. no. 340, pp. 252–53, Online Publication, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Counts, Derek B. 2014. "Myth into Art: Foreign Impulses and Local Reponses in Archaic Cypriot Sanctuaries." The Cambridge Prehistory of the Bronze and Iron Age Mediterranean, Arthur Bernard Knapp and Peter van Dommelen, eds. pp. 288-9, 291, fig. 16.4, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.