This famous marble sculpture, made between the 480 b.C. and
the 450 b.C., has been theorized by the scholars as coming
from the handicraft workshops of the polis of Locri
Epizephyrii. This theory is, especially, based upon the stylistic accounts made about
the surprising similarities between the throne and the
renowned Locrian pinakes.
Following that theory, during the 1980's, a study made by
Prof. Margherita Guarducci confirmed the Locrian origin of
the sculpture and also indicated the original site where it
was originally placed inside the ancient polis.
According to Prof. Guarducci it comes from the temple of
Aphrodite (Temple of contrada MarasÓ)
of the ancient Locri Epizephyrii, where it was used
as the parapet of the bothros. This theory is strengthened by
the measures of the sculpture which fit perfectly together with the
three great stones of the covering of the bothros;
stones still existing
and open to visits inside the archaeological area of the
Temple of contrada MarasÓ.
Another theory, this time made by Prof. Giorgio Gullini,
proposes as the original site of the throne one of the short
sides of the altar dating back to the V century b.C. of the
Sanctuary of contrada MarasÓ.
Even in this case, as for Prof. Guarducci's one, the
measures of the throne fit together with the ones of the
altar placed inside the archaeological area.
The sculpture, in its bas-relief
decoration, represents on the front side Aphrodite born from
the sea foam (but some scholars
sees in it the representation of Persephon coming back from
the Hades) and helped by two maidservants to raise from the water, while on the left side is represented a naked
flute-girl seated on a cushion and playing the double-flute, and
on the right side a veiled woman using an incense-burner.
The Ludovisi Throne was almost certainly stolen during the
Roman age as a war booty, thus vanishing for many centuries. It
was discovered only in 1887 during some urban works at
the Villa Ludovisi in Rome and became part of the private
collection started by Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi in the XVII
century a.D. and, during that age, still property of his
heirs. Some years later Ludovisi's heirs were forced to sell
the entire collection and, in 1901, the Throne and many
other sculptures were bought by the Italian State.
Nowadays the sculpture is under the tutelage of the Roman
National Museum and can be visited in Rome at Palazzo
Altemps, the place where the entire Ludovisi collection
According to the Homeric tradition Aphrodite is the
daughter of Zeus and Dione (a still unidentified
character which was probably one of the daughters of
Uranos and Gaia or one of the Oceanids Nymphs,
daughters of Oceanus and Tethys).
Afterwards, however, the literary
(and artistic-religious) tradition of the ancient
Greece has ousted the Homeric legend with a new myth
which is, still today, the most famous one.
In this myth Aphrodite was born from
the foam of the sea (afros is the Greek for
foam) produced around the genitals of Uranos, threw
into the sea by Kronos, the youngest of the sons of
the sky god, after having mutilated him during the
revolt of the titans.
The first land which the goddess
reached was Cyprus and that's why one of
her most known epithets is "Cyprogenia"
(born in Cyprus); epithet which often is accompanied
by "Anadyomene" (risen from the sea).
The most ancient meaning of the myth of
Aphrodite was the chance that was granted to
everyone of admiring the marvel of the nature thanks
to the light and to the beauty which was cast
everywhere by the face of the goddess. Really soon
the Greek culture added another meaning to this one,
taken from the goddess Astarte, worshipped in
Phoenicia, which showed the ideal of strength of
Consequently, from then on, Aphrodite
became the goddess of beauty and love and her rule
was over the whole nature (sky, earth and sea) and
her names of Aphrodite Urania (goddess of
celestial love), Aphrodite Pandemos
(protector of the earthen loves) and Aphrodite
Pontia (protector of sailors).
The Romans carried on the myth merging
her peculiarities with the ones of the Italic Venus.