An intaglio on an etruscan carnelian scarab, mounted on an ancient gold ring. Capaneus (warrior struck by lightnings). The character can be identified with Capaneus, son to Hipponous, hero of greek mythology. According to the ancient tradition, Capaneus took part in the siege on Thebes in order to give power back to Polynices. The hero is described by the sources as a strong fighter but also an arrogant one. The facts of Thebes see him as the first to climb the legendary city walls, but, having openly provoked the gods by calling them out to stop him, he was struck by Zeus' lightning. In the intaglio, he is depicted in the exact moment of the divine punishment, when the mighty warrior is writhing, struck by flashes, his shield still in his hand. The arrow (in the field) heading towards his side is indicating both the phases of the siege and the fight; a variation shows a sword in the place of the arrow (the subject not to be mistaken for similar depictions of Ajax's suicide). An intaglio made with remarkable technical competence, compositional sensibility and care for details, even for the way the scarab shell has been rendered. A light chipping on the border, the which is adorned with a fine ovolo frame on two levels. Fine specimen, excellently preserved. Rare iconography. For comparisons: J. Boardman, Intaglios and rings. Greek, etruscan and eastern from a private collection, n. 134 (as far as style is concerned), n.141 (as far as pose and subject are concerned); Aa.Vv. L'oro degli Etruschi, a cura di M. Cristofani e M. Martelli, p.240 n. 271. Second half of the 5th century B.C - Beginning of the 4th century B.C.
intaglio 12 x 16 x 9 mm; ring diam. 22 mm; gr. 6,95.