Medusa's Gaze: The Extraordinary Journey of the Tazza by Marina Belozerskaya

By Marina Belozerskaya

The Tazza Farnese is without doubt one of the such a lot renowned gadgets from classical antiquity. A libation bowl carved from banded agate, it positive factors Medusa's head on its outdoors and, within, an meeting of Egyptian gods. For greater than millennia, those radiant figures have mesmerized emperors and artists, popes and thieves, retailers and museum goers. during this, the 1st book-length account of this well known masterpiece, Marina Belozerskaya strains its attention-grabbing trip via historical past. That it has survived in any respect is a miracle.

The Tazza's origins date again to Ptolemaic Egypt the place it most likely greater the ability and status of Cleopatra. After her defeat through Emperor Augustus, the bowl started an awesome itinerary alongside many flashpoints in global heritage. It most likely traveled from Rome to Constantinople. After that city's sack by way of crusaders in 1204, it lower back west to motivate the classical revival on the court docket of Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II at Palermo. The Tazza subsequent graced Tamerlane's court docket at Samarqand, prior to changing into an obsession of Renaissance popes and princes. It witnessed the rediscovery of Pompeii and Herculaneum, the turbulent aftermath of the French Revolution, and the start of the fashionable Italian nation.

Throughout its trip, the Tazza aroused the lust of Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and Mongol rulers, consoled a heart-broken duchess, encouraged artists together with Botticelli and Raphael, tempted spies and thieves, and drew the ire of a deranged museum shield who approximately destroyed it. greater than a biography of the world's so much adored bowl, Medusa's Gaze is a vibrant and pleasant voyage via history.

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Soon thereafter Octavian’s men arrived, and though Cleopatra refused to leave the building, they tricked her into surrender and took her to the royal palace. Octavian wanted to ensure her safety so that he could take her to Rome and parade her as his captive. She would not suffer such an indignity. 54 On August 10, 30 bc, having taken a bath and eaten a sumptuous banquet, Cleopatra sent a message to Octavian begging him to bury her with Antony; then she locked herself in with her two faithful maids.

But by 37 bc Antony was back in the East, resuming his campaign to conquer Parthia and his liaison with the queen. He spent the winter of 37/36 bc with her in Antioch while consolidating his power over Syria, and would remain with her for the next few years, producing one more son, named Ptolemy. When Antony was away from Cleopatra, she sent him love letters written on tablets of onyx or crystal. 45 Romance aside, Antony and Cleopatra’s relationship was crucial to them both. Cleopatra depended on Roman goodwill and support to run her kingdom and return its frontiers to their extent under the first Ptolemies.

She played at dice with him, drank with him, hunted with him, and watched him as he exercised himself in arms; and when by night he would station himself at the doors or windows of the common folk and scoff at those within, she would go with him on his round of mad follies, wearing the garb of a serving maiden. 42 Antony was not a difficult companion. “For there was simplicity in his nature, and slowness of perception, though when he did perceive his errors he showed keen repentance, and made full acknowledgement to the very men who had been unfairly dealt with, and there was largeness both in his restitution to the wronged and in his punishment of the wrongdoers.

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