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HOME : Classical Antiquities : Archive : Roman Marble Sculpture of a Herm
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Roman Marble Sculpture of a Herm - PF.6951
Origin: Mediterranean
Circa: 100 AD to 300 AD
Dimensions: 22" (55.9cm) high
Collection: Classical
Medium: Marble


Additional Information: Sold (The Pillar Dates from the 19th Century)

Location: United States
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Description
Herms are sculpted pillars surmounted by the head, and sometimes the shoulders, or a man. Personages depicted range from the gods, foremost among them the Greek god Hermes, after who the herm was named, to popular personalities such as philosophers, authors, and playwrights. Herms first appeared in the 5th century B.C. Greece and were traditionally positioned at physical boundaries, specifically crossroads. While such works may have served as functional road markers, it is likely that herms also possessed a supernatural protective function based on the fact that intersections were often sites of ritual worship. Originally, during the Greek era, the pillar section was decorated with a clearly defined phallus, perhaps suggesting that herms once had fertility connotations. However, by the time of the Roman era, herms had become completely profane and void of any cult or ritual significance. The Romans adapted the form of the herm for its decorative elements. While herms once stood at important crossroads during the golden age of Greece, by the Roman era, they had become garden ornaments representing popular personalities. This fragment of the head of a herm, attached to a recreated pillar in the 19th century, might just depict an ancient celebrity. It is also possible the thickly bearded and curly haired head represents a god. This herm, created during the Roman Empire, was appreciated for its decorative qualities. Today, it continues to be as pleasing to the eye as it once was, while now additionally inspiring the mind with its age and history. - (PF.6951)

 

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