Statue of Ulysses beneath a ram
The statuary group, which depicts a mighty ram to which a virile figure is clinging, appears as a faithful marble transposition of the words with which the Greek hero Ulysses at the court of the Phaeacians told of his escape from the cave of the Cyclops: “Thus every three sheep bore a man. But as for me – there was a ram, far the best of all the flock; him I grasped by the back, and curled beneath his shaggy belly, lay there face upwards with steadfast heart, clinging fast with my hands to his wondrous fleece” (Odyssey, IX, 431 – 435).
The statuary group comes from Villa Albani, conceived by the erudite Cardinal Albani as a place of rediscovery of the ancient, where the classical world might shine through a refined series of citations. Inspired by the Cyclopis anthra, popular in the Hellenistic age and later replicated in Roman villas, the Cardinal wanted to recreate one of the most famous Homeric episodes inside an artificial cave: the flight of the Greek hero Ulysses from the cavern of the monstrous Polyphemus.
Inventory: MT 438
Material: White marble
Technique: Work sculpted through the use of: chisels (also square-tipped and toothed) rasps
Dating: Imperial era
Origin: Villa Albani