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Hellenistic statue of Hermaphroditus from Pergamon. Istanbul Archaeological Museum.
|In Greek and Roman mythology, Hermaphroditus (Greek, Ἑρμαφρόδιτος, Hermaphroditos), the child of Hermes and Aphrodite (the Roman equivalents were Mercury and Venus), had combined male and female characteristics. In the art of the Hellenistic and Roman periods, the trans-sexual deity is often depicted in explicitly erotic and even seductive poses, with exposed breasts and male genitals (see photos below). 
This 186.5 cm high statue was found in 1879 in a cistern, southeast of the Great Altar of Zeus on the Pergamon Acropolis, along with parts of other sculptures dated to the same period. 
Although the statue is labelled as being made in the third century BC, according to literature of the Berlin State Museums it belongs to the first half of the second century BC. 
The Hermaphroditus statue
in full length.
From the Yortanli Dam Salvage
excavation, near Pergamon.
Bergama Archaeological Museum.
The "Berlin Hermaphroditus"
wearing a mithra, a woman's scarf.
Thasian marble. 172.3 cm high.
Circa 120-140 AD.
Altes Museum, Berlin.
Inv. No. Sk 193.
Statue of Hermaphroditus of
a common type showing the
deity raising his/her garment
to reveal male gentials.
Roman period, 2nd century AD.
Izmir Museum of History and Art.
Inv. No. 5921.
Statue of Hermaphroditus and a satyr at erotic play. The objects below the couple
are Dionysian-bucolic attributes, including musical instruments and a tortoise.
Parian marble. Roman copy of a 2nd century BC
Hellenistic original. Height of Hermaphroditus 122.6 cm.
Altes Museum, Berlin. Inv. No. 195.
Acquired in Rome in 1826, the statue group has been restored. The satyr's
head is modern, Hermaphroditus's head is ancient but belongs to another statue.
|Notes, references and links
See Victor Ljunggren Szepessy's MA thesis dealing with this statue:
Victor Ljunggren Szepessy, The Marriage Maker: The Pergamon Hermaphrodite as the God Hermaphroditos, Divine Ideal and Erotic Object. Master of Arts Thesis in Art History. University of Oslo, 2014.
2. Statue of Hermaphroditus from Pergamon
White marble. Total height 186.5 cm, including 12 cm high plinth.
Istanbul Archaeological Museum.
Inv. No. 363 T (Cat. Mendel 624).
See: Gustave Mendel (1873-1938), Catalogue des sculptures grecques, romaines et byzantines, Tome Second, pages 368-371. Musée Impérial, Constantinople (Istanbul), 1914.
3. Dating of the Hermaphroditus statue
Pergamon. Panorama der antiken Metropole (Pergamon. Panorama of the Ancient Metropolis). Book to accompany the exhibition of the same name in the Pergamon Museum, Berlin, 2012:
Objektkatalog, 1 Entdeckung einer Metropole, page 432, Catalogue No. 1.23. Antikensammlung der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin and Michael Imhof Verlag, Petersberg, 2012.
There is a plaster cast of this statue in Berlin which was exhibited in the Pergamon Museum during the exhibition:
Abguss-Sammlung Antiker Plastik (cast collection of ancient sculpture) of the Freie Universität, VII 1900.
Statuette of Hermaphroditus
carrying an infant Eros in
a fold of her garment.
From Tor Marancia, Rome.
Capitoline Museums, Rome.
Inv. No. MC370.
Fragment of a fresco with Hermaphroditus from Capua, Campania, Italy.
Second half of the 3rd century AD.
Hermaphroditus is shown naked apart from a red cloak and a golden laurel wreath.
In the manner of depictions of Dionysus, he/she rests his left hand on his head
and carries a kithara in his left.
Barracco Museum, Rome. Inv. No. MB 214.
|Map, photos and articles: © David John
Additional photos: © Konstanze Gundudis
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have been attributed where applicable.
Please do not use these photos or articles without permission.
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Higher resolution versions are available on request.
Some of the information and photos in this guide to Pergamon
originally appeared in 2004 on davidjohnberlin.de.
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