Harpokrates-Cupid with Cornucopia

By
Laura Hutchison
Laura Hutchison is finishing her first year of course-work in the Interdepartmental Ph.D. Program in Classical Art and Archaeology at Hopkins. Her research interests include Greek and Roman religion, the human form in ancient art, and modern issues in illicit trade of antiquities. She was excited and grateful to work so closely with ancient objects in preparation for The Roman House at Hopkins.

 

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  • Accession Number: JHUAM 9027
  • Measurements: Width: 3cm, Height: 8.7cm
  • Material: Copper alloy
  • Culture/Date: Roman, 1st c. CE
  • Provenance: Egypt?

The Harpokrates-Cupid figure illustrates the Roman appropriation of certain aspects of Egyptian religion during the Republican and Imperial periods. In Roman religion, Harpokrates, the child of Horus and Isis, was conflated with Cupid while his mother was conflated with Venus. This representation shows Harpokrates-Cupid wearing the crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt and lifting his finger to his lips, iconographic elements that recall his Egyptian origin. His posture and plump child-like body resemble Roman depictions of Cupid. _D3M0955webIn the Egyptian tradition, Harpokrates’ raised finger was meant to convey the god’s youthful qualities. When this deity began to be worshipped by the Romans, his gesture was misinterpreted as symbolic of silence. The presence of Harpokrates-Cupid in the lararium would have solicited fertility and abundance within the household.