Sunday, December 12, 2010

Chimera of Arezzo

The chimera is an ancient mythological animal that was part lion, part goat, and part serpent. This Etruscan version (one of the most famous pieces of Etruscan art that we have) also seems to incorporate almost dragon-like spikes along its spine. It's a common creature in Greek mythology and so its adoption into the Etruscans only further illustrates the cross-cultural relationship that they had. 

This creature was first referred to by Homer in the Illiad. The description is a brief one, just saying its front was a lion, the back a serpent, and the middle a goat. I find it fascinating that after such a brief mention, the creature was 1) so latched onto and popularized in other literary works and 2) that its depiction was what it was with such a limited physical description. 

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