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Work The Shepherd

Department of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities: Classical Greek Art (5th-4th centuries BC)

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© 2003 RMN / Hervé Lewandowski

Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities
Classical Greek Art (5th-4th centuries BC)

Astier Marie-Bénédicte

The sanctuary of Lycosura, at the foot of Mount Lycaeus in Arcadia, has offered up a huge number of small ex-votos - terra-cotta figurines and bronze statuettes - including some locally made shepherds. Wrapped in a wool cape and wearing a "pilos" on his head, this shepherd was made during the early fifth century BC and was probably dedicated to Hermes or Pan. We know that the worship of these two pastoral divinities flourished in Arcadia during this period.

A bronze votive from Lycosura

The Louvre collections were enriched in 1941 by the Nanteuil donation of several bronze figurines from the Archaic period. Although we do not know for certain where it was discovered, this statuette is likely to have come from the sanctuary of Lycosura, a village in Arcadia at the foot of Mount Lycaeus in the northern Peloponnesus. Several ex-votos, terra-cotta figurines, and a few bronze statuettes similar to this one were found in this sanctuary and in others situated in the nearby foothills of Lycaeus, such as Berekla.

The production of Arcadian shepherds

This statuette belongs to a homogeneous group of small bronze shepherds, which were produced in large numbers in the workshops of Arcadia. It was made using the lost-wax process during the first few decades of the fifth century BC, and attests to the persistence of regional styles in small statuary of this period. These figures have rather thickset proportions, and are generally tightly wrapped in a thick wool cape, the edges of which are attached under the chin with a large pin. They wear a "pilos" (a conical hat made of leather or felt) on their heads, and have inexpressive faces with wide-open eyes and close-cropped beards. Some wear only a short tunic and carry a small ram under their left arm or, less often, on their shoulders. Others probably once held a staff, now lost, judging by the small cavity visible on their sides. Nearly all of the shepherds have a stiff bodies topped with massive heads, which is characteristic of locally produced figures.

The worship of pastoral divinities

Peasants offered these figurines to the gods who protected their flocks. Some of them represent the pastoral divinities who were worshipped in the sanctuaries of Arcadia: Sileni, Hermes Criophorus (carrier of the ram), and Pan, the god of shepherds. The worship of Pan was particularly widely practiced in Athens and in the heart of the Peloponnesus - notably on the slopes of Mount Lycaeus - until the late fifth century BC. After this, most of the sanctuaries seem to have been gradually abandoned in favor of places of worship situated close to towns.


M. Jost, "Statuettes de bronze archaïques provenant de Lykosoura", Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique, 99, 1975, p. 341-343, fig. 7.

Technical description

  • Shepherd

    Early 5th century BC

    Provenance: Lycosura (Arcadia)?

    Arcadian style

  • Bronze

    H. 10.2 cm

  • H. de Nanteuil gift, 1941 , 1941

    Br 4248

  • Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities

    Sully wing
    1st floor
    Bronzes room
    Room 32, temporarily closed to the public, works n
    Display case C2: Classical Greece (5th century BC)

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