Almandine garnet; 1/2 x 1/4 x 5/8 in. (1.3 x 0.6 x 1.6 cm)
Gift of John Taylor Johnston, 1881 (81.6. 31)
Carved on this almandine garnet is Eros walking to the right and proudly carrying off the weapons of Herakles—the lion’s skin, the club, the bow, and the quiver. The image alludes to the disarmament of the formidable hero Herakles by the young, powerful god of love Eros, an iconography related to the theme of “love conquers all” (Omnia Vincit Amor).
The gem can be connected to a group of similar small garnets dated to the first century B.C. The series presents a consistent iconographic repertory of simple decorative motifs, which include playful erotes, maenads, or nymphs. The figures are usually executed in a simple style and the representations of erotes in various activities bear common features. Eros is usually depicted with a plump and boyish body, curly hair, and a cheeky face with a prominent nose.
Other distinctive qualities of this group of stones are their highly convex surfaces and their almost round shape, different from the elongated oval shape most popular for engraved gems during the previous centuries.