3⁄4 in. (1.9 cm.) long
Please note this lot is the property of a private individual.
Giorgio Sangiorgi (1886-1965), Rome, acquired and brought to Switzerland, late 1930s; thence by continuous descent to the current owner.
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E. Simon, "Bellerophon," in LIMC Supplementum, Zurich and Munich, 2009, p. 130, add. 9, pl. 57.
J. Boardman and C. Wagner, Masterpieces in Miniature: Engraved Gems from Prehistory to the Present, London, 2018, p. 103, no. 91.
The beetle is very well detailed, the sides of its plinth ornamented with a herring-bone hatched border. The underside is engraved in the a-globolo style with Pecse (Pegasos to the Greeks) and Bellerophon enclosed within a hatched border. The winged horse flies into the air, symbolized by the star before him, while Bellerophon lies face down on the ground below, Zeus’s thunderbolt stuck in his back.
After his victory over the Chimera, Bellerophon thought he deserved to fly up to Olympus, but this act of hubris angered Zeus, who hurled his thunderbolt, knocking him back to earth. This episode in the story only rarely appears in art except early, as seen on three relief panels of a Cretan pottery pithos of circa 675 B.C., no. 241 in C. Lochin, “Pegasos,” in LIMC, vol. VII. Simon (op. cit.) suggests that this scarab is from the same middle Italic workshop as another gem now in Berlin depicting Talos and a bull.