Laconian; Said to be from southern Italy
Bronze; H. 13 1/16 in. (33.81 cm)
Fletcher Fund, 1938 (38.11.3)
This figure of a young maiden standing on a recumbent lion with griffins springing from her shoulders is the support for a bronze mirror. The young girl is nude except for a necklace and strap, from which hang a crescent-shaped amulet and a ring. In her left hand she holds a pomegranate, an ancient symbol of fecundity. Her nudity and the creatures surrounding her recall images of the Mistress of the Animals, an ancient Near Eastern deity who contributed characteristics to the Greek goddesses Aphrodite and Artemis. As the handle of a mirror, the figure simply may evoke Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty and love, whose origins are ultimately Near Eastern. Because the figure is nude, it is closer to Aphrodite's Eastern aspect, in which she is associated with fertility, than to her Archaic Greek form, which is often elaborately clothed. Alternatively, the young maiden may represent the goddess Artemis Orthia, whose cult was especially important at the Laconian city of Sparta.