The internet is a most wonderful source of information but once again I discovered how tricky and misleading some of this information can be. It happened recently when on Pinterest I came across these three magnificent heads, most likely terracotta’s, labeled as Alexander, Olympias and Philip. They were very lively and very lifelike, so much so that I could hardly believe the labels to be correct.
I questioned the different sources who had posted these pictures on Pinterest but got no reaction at all. Are people just swallowing anything these days? The doubtful labels, however, linked these heads to the Museum of Villa Giulia in
. That was another reason to raise my eyebrows since that museum is specialized in Etruscan art and I fail to see their connection with Alexander and his family. Rome
Getting nowhere, I decided to contact the
in order to clarify this interpretation. It was not surprising to learn that they had no knowledge of this Macedonian royal family in their collection. Museum of Villa Giulia
The picture of this so-called Alexander is, in fact, a representation of Apollo recovered from the Etruscan Sanctuary of Scasata at Falerii Veteres, modern Civita Castellana in the
and has been dated to the end of the fourth/early third century BC. It was part of a terracotta group that enhanced the front pediment of the t province of Viterbo dedicated to Apollo, an oracle shrine. Some sources imply that this Apollo was inspired by the Alexander head created by Lysippos – not entirely improbable, I’d say. emple
It appeared that another nearby temple had been excavated as well and it had been determined that it was dedicated to Minerva (Athena), Juno (Hera) and Jupiter (Zeus). This temple yielded stunning terracotta sculptures from the early fourth century BC among which a cult statue of Juno, the one that is apparently mistaken for Olympias.
As to the head that supposedly represents Philip, I have no further information but I could speculate that if it was found near the Juno terracotta it might depict Jupiter.
These three heads are absolutely superb and I believe they are well worth a visit to the Museo Nazionale Etrusco di Villa Giulia next time you are in