Sphinx

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A figure made of solid bronze, depicting a sphinx, following the traditional iconography of this hybrid creature: the bust of a woman, lion's paws and bird wings. Hesiod referred to the Sphinx as a destructive demon boding evil. Pausanias refers to another tradition, identifying the Sphinx with a daughter of King Laius, who had been entrusted with a secret only known to the kings of Thebes. According to Apollodorus, the Sphinx had learned the art of formulating the enigmas of the Muses. For all of them, the Sphinx exerted its power through song and beauty, thus forming a link to the mythology of the sirens.

With Augustus (63 BC – 14 AD), Rome became the most influential city in the Empire, also becoming the new centre of Hellenistic culture, as had been Pergamon and Alexandria previously, attracting a large number of Greek artisans. Just as Alexander's successors had contributed to the survival of Greek art, enriching it with new themes unthinkable in the classical era (progressive secularism, childhood, death, old age and even humour), now in the Augusta era, Rome wanted to make its own contribution to the continuity and renewal of a tradition that had already gained prestige for centuries, and which had dictated the character of all the art produced there. But more than the simple transfer of cultural attention to Rome, which gave rise to a change in what was purely Greek until then, and the emergence of a Roman school, the formation of the idea of empire and the application of Greek technique to these themes was what was characteristic of this new Rome.

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