The Rape of Persephone
 
 
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  • Material: Sardonyx Shell, 18K gold tested.
  • Size: 3 2/8" by 2 6/8". Only cameo is 2 5/8" by 2 1/8".
  • Date and Origin: Date and Origin: Circa 1870 Italy, mounting is English. Signed Lamont. Original fitted box.
  • Conditions: Some minor losses on the blue enamel, nose of Persephone is a very little worn, (noticeable a bit only under a loupe) otherwise mint.
 
Rarest and museum quality cameo depicting the Abduction of Persephone. Persephone was the daughter of the Goddess Demeter, she was abducted by Hades, God of the underworld and constricted to live with him as his wife in the dark of the underworld. There should be so much to say about this legend. Read below about this legend . This subject is surely after a painting or a sculpture as I have found a medal carved with the identical subject, it is shown below, the quality of the picture is not so good but you can clearly see that the subject is just the same of the cameo.  I'm still searching for the related painting. A wonderful subject seen only twice.  This is a cameo of surpassing beauty, look at the abundance of details so crisply carved. The powerful Hades is depicted with his strong body while abducting Persephone, his muscles are stretched in the physical effort to grab Persephone. All of that is masterly carved. Have you seen how the horses are carved? Only a real artist could make a so fascinating cameo. To give more value to it there is a spectacular enamelled frame, the right one to evidence the beauty of the cameo This is another masterly carved cameo. A very desirable collectors piece, rare and museum quality cameo.

A bit of History:

In Greek mythology, Persephone was the Queen of the Underworld and a daughter of Demeter and Zeus. In the Olympian version, she also becomes the consort of Hades when he becomes the deity that governs the underworld. The figure of Persephone is well-known today. Her story has great emotional power: an innocent maiden, a mother's grief over her abduction, and great joy after her daughter is returned. It is also cited frequently as a paradigm of myths that explain natural processes, with the descent and return of the goddess bringing about the change of seasons. The story of her abduction is traditionally referred to as the Rape of Persephone. In the later Olympian pantheon of Classical Greece, Persephone is given a father: according to Hesiod's Theogony, Persephone was the daughter produced by the union of Demeter and Zeus: "And he [Zeus] came to the bed of bountiful Demeter, who bore white-armed Persephone, stolen by Hades from her mother's side" Unlike every other offspring of an Olympian pairing of deities, Persephone has no stable position at Olympus. Persephone used to live far away from the other deities, a goddess within Nature herself before the days of planting seeds and nurturing plants. In the Olympian telling, the gods Hermes, Ares, Apollo, and Hephaestus, had all wooed Persephone; but Demeter rejected all their gifts and hid her daughter away from the company of the Olympian deities. Thus, Persephone lived a peaceful life before she became the goddess of the underworld, which, according to Olympian mythographers, did not occur until Hades abducted her and brought her into it. She was innocently picking flowers with some nymphs, Athena, and Artemis, as the Homeric hymn says, in a field in Enna (Sicily - Italy) when Hades came to abduct her, bursting through a cleft in the earth. Later, the nymphs were changed by Demeter into the Sirens for not having interfered. Life came to a standstill as the devastated Demeter, goddess of the Earth, searched everywhere for her lost daughter. Helios, the sun, who sees everything, eventually told Demeter what had happened. Finally, Zeus, pressed by the cries of the hungry people and by the other deities who also heard their anguish, forced Hades to return Persephone. However, it was a rule of the Fates that whoever consumed food or drink in the Underworld was doomed to spend eternity there. Before Persephone was released to Hermes, who had been sent to retrieve her, Hades tricked her into eating pomegranate seeds, (six, seven, eight, or perhaps four according to the telling) which forced her to return to the underworld for a season each year. In some versions, Ascalaphus informed the other deities that Persephone had eaten the pomegranate seeds. When Demeter and her daughter were united, the Earth flourished with vegetation and color, but for some months each year, when Persephone returned to the underworld, the earth once again became a barren realm. This is an origin story to explain the seasons.