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Work The Tyche of Antioch

Department of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities: Roman Art

Tyché d'Antioche

© 1993 RMN / Hervé Lewandowski

Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities
Roman Art

Author(s):
Astier Marie-Bénédicte

This small bronze group, made during the Roman period, reproduces a very famous composition by the Greek sculptor Eutychides of Sikyon from the third century BC. The city of Antioch on the Orontes is identified with Tyche, goddess of fortune and protector of the town. She is represented seated on a rock, wearing a crown with crenelated towers. At her feet the bust of a young swimmer emerges from the waves: he is a personification of the river Orontes, beside which the town was founded.

Echo of a group by Eutychides

This bronze statuette is one of the numerous pieces from the Clerq collection (given by Henri de Boisgelin) that entered the Louvre in 1967. The work is a small Roman replica of a very famous bronze by the Greek painter and sculptor Eutychides of Sikyon. It comes from Tartus (the ancient Antaradus) in Syria, where it was probably made during the first or second century AD. The original is known from the writings of Pliny the Elder (Natural History XXXIV, 51) and Pausanias (Periegeses VI, 2, 7): Eutychides, a pupil of Lysippos, produced a Tyche for the city of Antioch (in Turkey) during the early years of the third century BC. The original composition seems to have been designed to celebrate the recent founding of the town by Seleukos I Nicator in 300 BC, at the foot of Mount Silpius on the left bank of the river Orontes. Highly admired during the Hellenistic and Roman periods, this work by Eutychides was copied many times, often on a small scale, leaving to posterity a number of replicas-some faithful, others less so-of the illustrious original.

A testament to the glory of Antioch on the Orontes

The city of Antioch is identified with Tyche, the goddess of fortune and protector of the town. She is seated on a rock, her legs crossed in a gracious gesture that highlights the elegant fullness of the drapery. In her right hand she is holding a sheaf of corn, a symbol of wealth and fertility. On her head she wears a crown with crenelated towers that evoke the city walls. At the feet of the goddess a swimmer with youthful features appears, his torso emerging from the waters: the young man is a personification of the river Orontes, which flows past the town. The Louvre group takes certain licenses with the Greek model: if we refer to the multiple representations of the original (sculpted replicas, gems and coins struck during the first century BC), they show Tyche's right foot resting on the right shoulder of the swimmer, unlike the presentation adopted in this bronze. While the mounting of the figures on the base is probably modern, so that the placement of the figures in relation to each other may be arbitrary, even if the swimmer were further to the right of the composition, the foot of the goddess would be too high to lean on the shoulder of the young man. Some scholars have concluded that the two statuettes belonged to two different works.

A model for the Hellenistic Tyches

It was during the period of the Diadochoi (successors of Alexander), during the late fourth century BC, that the first representations of Tyche appeared, whether as a founder and protector of towns or an incarnation of the glorious fortune of a sovereign. The group by Eutychides seems to have been a model for numerous personifications of towns founded during the Hellenistic period. At this time, Tyche was a type often identified with local divinities, with her attributes varying according to the locality with which she was associated.

Bibliography

S. Descamps, Antioch. The lost ancient city, Worcester 2000, p. 118, n 6.P. Devambez, "La donation L. de Clercq-H. de Boisgelin ; Antiquités grecques et romaines", La Revue du Louvre et des Musées de France 4-5, 1968, p. 326.T. Dohrn, Die Tyche von Antiochia, Berlin, 1960, p. 17-18, n 10, pl. 8, 9.1, 10.2, 32.2.

Technical description

  • Tyché d'Antioche

    Ier - IIe siècle après J.-C.

    Provenance : Tortose (antique Antaradus, actuelle Tartous, Syrie)

  • Bronze

    H. : 16,50 cm.

  • Collection de Clercq, don Boisgelin, 1967

    Br 4453

  • Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities

    Sully wing
    1st floor
    Bronzes room
    Room 32, temporarily closed to the public, works n
    Vitrine C4 : Empire romain

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