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  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: May 2011
  • First published in: 1896

CHAPTER XIX - HEKATE: REPRESENTATIONS IN ART

Summary

The evidence of the monuments as to the character and significance of Hekate is almost as full as that of the literature. But it is only in the later period that they come to express her manifold and mystic nature. Before the fifth century there is little doubt that she was usually represented as of single form like any other divinity, and it was thus that the Boeotian poet imagined her, as nothing in his verses contains any allusion to a triple-formed goddess. The earliest known monument is a small terracotta found in Athens, with a dedication to Hekate (Pl. XXXVIII. a), in writing of the style of the sixth century. The goddess is seated on a throne with a chaplet bound round her head; she is altogether without attributes and character, and the only value of this work, which is evidently of quite a general type and gets a special reference and name merely from the inscription, is that it proves the single shape to be her earlier form, and her recognition at Athens to be earlier than the Persian invasion.

With this single exception, the black-figured and earlier red-figured vases are the only monuments that show us the figure of Hekate in the archaic and transitional periods; and on these, as well as on the vases of the later time, her form is single, and her usual attribute is the double torch.

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