Portrait of Menander2020-01-12T11:21:36+00:00

Project Description

Portrait of Menander ( 1st Century A.D.)

Only the torso, the tops of the arms, the legs up to the middle of the thighs and the beginning of the tail — which accounts for its restoration as a satyr— are antique. Up to the elbow, the posture of the satyr’s left arm in the re¬stored version is consistent with the po¬sition of the antique part, but the fore-arm ought to have been positioned further forward and lower down, as the mark left by a support on the left thigh indicates. The restored version of the right arm is incorrect: that arm was raised, as the mark of a support under the armpit shows. The satyr is part of a Roman copy of the group entitled A Satyr Inviting a Nymph to Dance, various replicas of which are known. The prototype, dating from the early Hellenistic period, came from Asia Minor.
The personage portrayed is the Athenian comic dramatist Menander, who died in 293—292 B.C. The writer does not seek to hide his age (about fifty): his sunken eyes betray premature ageing and the melancholy caused by the passing of time; his close-set eyes and furrowed brow are a reminder of the squint that afflicted him. But the signs of age and this disorder do not diminish the nobility of this elongated face. His jaw, mouth and cheeks are imperceptibly animated by interior concentration and an expression of intelligence. His chin is softened by the slight depression. One of the inscriptions with Menander’s name is in Athens, on the plinth of the statue signed by Praxiteles’ sons. Cephisodotus and Timarchus, that stood in the theatre of Dionysus.

Click here to book your Borghese Gallery tickets or here to book a Borghese Gallery tour