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LOCRI EPIZEPHYRII



Salvatore La Rosa
WWW.LOCRIANTICA.IT Welcome to Magna Graecia ARCHAEOLOGICAL FINDS

  
THE DIOSCURI

 
These sculptures are amongst Magna Graecia's most remarkable ones and they were unearthed by archaeologist Paolo Orsi during the 1890-1891 excavation campaign.

The Dioscuri were a part of the sculptural decoration of the west pediment of the Temple of Contrada MarasÓ, but it's still unclear whether they were placed as the acroterion decoration or if they were included inside the tympanum.

 

Sculptural Group of the Dioscuri
SCULPTURAL GROUP OF THE DIOSCURI
(Image source: G. Incorpora - Locri Antica e Gerace,
Ponte Nuovo Editrice, Bologna 1980 - II Edizione - pag. 93)


The sculptures, which date back to the end of the V century b.C. or to the beginning of the IV century b.C., are made in Parian marble. The sculpture on the right is the better preserved (even if the head was found by archaeologist Alfonso De Franciscis only in 1956) whereas the one on the left keeps only few original pieces, integrated by a restoration in white plaster made during the first years of the XX century.

Another sculpture, discovered few years before the Dioscuri, has been placed side by side with the two knights. This sculpture represents a nereid (a sea nymph which could refers to the two tritons carrying the horses of the Dioscuri) or a Nike (supposing that the whole sculptural group was made to celebrate the Locrian victory in the Battle of the Sagra, during which, according to the legend, the Dioscuri themselves fought by Locrian side, leading Locri to the final victory).

 

Dioscuros
DIOSCUROS
(Image source: G. Incorpora - Locri Antica e Gerace,
Ponte Nuovo Editrice, Bologna 1980 - II Edizione - pag. 93)


Actually the scholars are not so sure about the belonging of this last sculpture to the decorative group of the Temple; anyway, at the National Museum of Reggio Calabria, it is exhibited between the two Dioscuri, thus forming a unique group.

 

MYTHOLOGY


The Dioscuri are the twins Castor and Pollux, sons of Zeus and Leda and brothers of Helen of Troy and of Clytemnestra. Leda, who was the wife of Tyndareus king of Sparta, spent the same night with his husband and with Zeus. From this unions born two couples of twins: Pollux and Helen of Troy from Zeus (therefore immortal) and Castor and Clytemnestra from Tyndareus (therefore mortal).
 
Another version of the myth tells, instead, that Leda was surprised by Zeus (transformed into a swan) and from that union she procreated two giant eggs from which the two couples of twins were born.
 
Castor was a warrior, a skilled horse trainer, while Pollux was an expert boxer. Together they made many feats, such as the rescue of their sister Helen of Troy, kidnapped by Theseus and held prisoner in the Afidna fortress; or such as their presence during the hunt to the wild boar of Calidonius or their joining of the Argonauts' expedition.

Always together, they kidnapped the priestess Hilaeira and Phoebe with which they felt in love; but the two women were already betrothed to the cousins Idas and Lynceus, who fought against the Dioscuri for the love of the two women. During the fight Castor was killed by Idas, while Pollux killed Lynceus. The fight was stopped by Zeus, who killed Idas and carried Pollux to the Olympus. But Pollux refused his immortality if it couldn't be shared with his brother. Then Zeus granted that they could live one day each alternatively between Olympus and Hades.

In the night sky Castor and Pollux are the two brightest stars of the Gemini (the twins) constellation.

       
     

 

 

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