Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Harpokrates in an Egyptianizing Crown and holding the club of Herakles

Period:
Roman Period
Date:
A.D. 1st century
Geography:
From Egypt
Medium:
Bronze
Dimensions:
H. 18.5 cm
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1946
Accession Number:
46.2.1
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 137
Harpokrates, or "Horus the child," the son of Isis and Osiris/Serapis, is here represented as a chubby toddler with a plump, crooked forefinger reaching toward his small mouth. He holds the knobby club of the Greek god Herakles and on his head wears a vestigial Egyptian double crown detailed with striations and dots. The crown is obscured in the front by a very large sun disk bearing a uraeus. A rarely noted deep blue corrosion gives the piece a rich tone.

Harpokrates, the quintessential divine son, was extremely popular and had already been assimilated to other gods during pharaonic times. During the Hellenistic and Roman eras the syncretisms multiplied. The association of Harpokrates with Herakles in these eras seems to be based on warrior characteristics that Harpokrates had acquired in earlier conflations with other dieties. Once Roman rule came to Egypt the worship of Harpokrates spread throughout the empire, so it is possible that the unusual details of the god's crown and disk denote a non-Egyptian origin.
Purchased by the Museum from Fahim Kouchakji, New York, 1946.

Hill, Marsha 2000. "Roman Egypt." In The Year One: Art of the Ancient World East and West, edited by Elizabeth J. Milleker. New Haven: Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 94, fig. 74, p. 208.

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