Gallery: Jewels and Precious Objects

Gold openwork hairnet with medallion (200–150BCE)
Gold openwork hairnet with medallion (200–150BCE)

This Gallery is going to show you some jewels and some precious ornaments or objects. The pictures were taken at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

In this passage, when Hera wants to seduce Zeus, she goes to her room to prepare herself. Earrings are part of her attire.

[170] She cleansed all the dirt from her fair body with ambrosia, then she anointed herself with olive oil, ambrosial, very soft, and scented specially for herself–if it were so much as shaken in the bronze-floored house of Zeus, the scent pervaded the universe of heaven and earth. [175] With this she anointed her delicate skin, and then she plaited the fair ambrosial locks that flowed in a stream of golden tresses from her immortal head. She put on the wondrous robe which Athena had worked for her with consummate art, and had embroidered with manifold devices; [180] she fastened it about her bosom with golden clasps, and she girded herself with a girdle that had a hundred tassels: then she fastened her earrings, three brilliant pendants with much charm radiating from them, through the pierced lobes of her ears, [185] and threw a lovely new veil over her head. She bound her sandals on to her feet, and when she had finished making herself up in perfect order, she left her room and called Aphrodite to come aside and speak to her.

Iliad 14.170–186, “>Sourcebook

In another passage, this time in the Odyssey, Penelope is receiving gifts from the suitors and we have a description of several jewels. The description of the earrings is similar to the one for Hera. Did Penelope enjoy receiving all these gifts?

 [285] “Circumspect Queen Penelope, daughter of Ikarios, take as many presents as you please from any one who will give them to you; it is not well to refuse a present; but we will not go about our business nor stir from where we are, till you have married the best man among us whoever he may be.”

[290] The others applauded what Antinoos had said, and each one sent his servant to bring his present. Antinoos’ man returned with a large and lovely dress most exquisitely pattern-woven. It had twelve beautifully made brooch pins of pure gold with which to fasten it.

[295] Eurymakhos immediately brought her a magnificent chain of gold and amber beads that gleamed like sunlight. Eurydamas’ two men returned with some earrings fashioned into three radiant pendants which glistened in beauty [kharis]; while king Peisandros [300] son of Polyktor gave her a necklace of the rarest workmanship, and every one else brought her a beautiful present of some kind. Then the queen went back to her room upstairs, and her maids brought the presents after her. Meanwhile the suitors took to singing and dancing…

Odyssey 18.285–302, Sourcebook

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Hélène Emeriaud is a retired teacher. A Community TA for HeroesX in v3 and  v4, she enjoys being a participant in Hour 25. 

Photos: H. Emeriaud