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Statue of Euthenia

Statue of Euthenia
© BA Antiquities Museum/M. Aly

Registration Number(s)
BAAM Serial Bibliotheca Alexandrina Antiquities Museum Number T0001

Inv.Inventory
 (Greco-Roman Museum) 24124

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Mehamara Collection

Statue of Euthenia

Category:
Sculpture in the round, statues, human / gods and goddesses statues
Date:
Graeco-Roman Period, Roman Period, 2nd cent. CE
Provenance:
Lower Egypt, Alexandria, El-Mehamara (Sidi Bishr)
Material(s):
Rock, marble
Height:
40 cm;
Length:
60 cm;
Width:
18 cm
Hall:
Mehamara Collection


Description

This statue depicts the goddess Euthenia reclining on her left side, based with her arm on a sphinx; the symbol of Egypt. The goddess holds a lotus flower in one of her hands, and a vessel holding the sacred Nile water in the other. The hair is coiffed like Isis; in the form of twisted strands falling on the shoulders. Euthenia is wearing a chiton decorated at the chest with the Isis knot. The goddess is surrounded by eight children, symbolizing half the Nile inundation necessary for guaranteeing an abundant harvest, which is 16 arms (1 arm = 0.52 m).

Euthenia

Euthenia is considered of Alexandrian origin, carrying traits that represent the combination of the Egyptian religion and the Roman religion. In the Roman Period, the god Nilus symbolized youth and the Nile water, while Euthenia symbolized those agricultural fields irrigated by the Nile. For some scholars, Euthenia was considered the daughter of Nilus and a symbol for growth and prosperity. In the Roman Period, she became his wife.
Euthenia widely spread in the Ptolemaic Period and the Roman Period. Her statues resembled to a great extent those of Nilus as to appearance and attributes; such as the cornucopia and the wheat stalks. Euthenia was usually depicted reclining in Roman form. Her drop-down dress was semi-open as if to receive the water of the Nile. Her head was decorated with the calathos crown, or wheat stalks. Euthenia was sometimes depicted resting on a hippopotamus, a sphinx, or a small elephant.
The goddess Euthenia became widely famous with the minting of Alexandrian coins as of 11/10 BCE. But we find that the goddess was depicted together with her name on one of the first undated Alexandrian coins, minted by August before the year 11/10 BCE. At the end of the rule of Emperor Antoninus Pius (138–161 CE), a new depiction of Euthenia appeared on coins, where she became goddess of commercial sailing. This could be attributed to Antoninus Pius renovating the Lighthouse of Alexandria in the eighth year of his reign.

Goddesses Linked to Euthenia

There was a connection between Euthenia and the Egyptian goddess Isis. Nilus symbolized water, and therefore Euthenia became a symbol for land irrigated by the water of the Nile. The role of land fertilized by the water of the Nile originally dates back to Isis. From here arose the connection between the two goddesses. There is also a connection between Euthenia and the Greek goddess Demeter, who was originally the goddess of wheat, then became goddess of cultivated lands.  Euthenia was also merged with the goddess Tyche, and was depicted reclining on her side, holding wheat stalks in one hand and the royal staff in the other, surrounded by two boats.


The information given here is subject to modification/update as a result of ongoing research.

References
  • Achille Adriani, Divagazioni intorno ad una coppa paesistica del Museo di Alessandria, Documenti e ricerche d'arte alessandrina 3-4 (Rome: L'Erma di Bretschneider, 1959): 31ff, pls. 46, 133.
  • Soheir Bakhoum, Dieux égyptiens à Alexandrie sous les Antonins: Recherches numismatiques et historiques, preface by André Laronde (Paris: CNRS Éditions, 2002).
  • Fekri Hassan et al., eds., Alexandria Graeco-Roman Museum: A Thematic Guide (Cairo: National Center for Documentation of Cultural and Natural Heritage; The Supreme Council of Antiquities, 2002): 123.
  • Patrizio Pensabene and Eleonora Gasparini, “The Trade in Small-Size Statues in the Roman Mediterranean: A Case Study from Alexandria”, in ASMOSIA X: Proceedings of the Tenth International Conference of ASMOSIA (Association for the Study of Marble & Other Stones in Antiquity) Rome, 21-26 May 2012: Interdisciplinary Studies on Ancient Stone (Rome: L'Erma di Bretschneider, 2015): 101-108.
  • Dietrich Wildung and Günter Grimm, eds., Götter und Pharaonen: Roemer- und Pelizaeus-Museum, Hildesheim, 29. Mai-16. September 1979 (Mainz: Philipp von Zabern, 1979): no. 144.
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