End of the fourth century BC – the beginning of the third century BC
Height 27 cm; Ø 13 cm
Recovered by the Guardia di Finanza
This bronze mirror has a circular, disc-like shape. It belongs to the type with fused handles. It has a figural decoration incised backside of the face. The piece is intact, but quite damaged, especially in the central part of the decoration. The disc has a slightly convex profile; on the backside the rim is slightly raised to become an edge. The decoration on the edge consists of a garland of laurel or olive leaves, converging at the center in the upper part and extending from the center of the bottom part from an element no longer recognizable, maybe surmounted by a flower.
In the incised, posterior decoration, despite the dark-green cuprite encrustations, it is possible to recognize a scene of conversation between two figures: at the sides are two young figures leaning against an object that is no longer identifiable; they are in a “speculating” pose. They must have had at least one outstretched leg, while the other was flexed and slightly raised. They both wear conical caps typical of Phrygia. The figure whose details are more-easily identifiable is on the left: from observation it can be deduced, in fact, that he wears a cloak tied under the neck with a circular fibula; and he has one of his arms folded towards the body with the hand, also folded, placed under the chin. The figure on the right, on the other hand, seems to have a nude upper body, while a cloak, with ample drapery folds, covers and envelops his legs. It is difficult to establish if the two figures are equipped with weapons, as is often the case in this type of iconography, and what type of footwear they could be wearing.
A third figure, almost certainly a woman, stands at the center with her head turned three-quarters to the left. The head is adorned with big curls, rendered with concentric semi-circles. She wears tall shoes with crossed laces and a cloak that must have partially covered her legs, while under the neck there seems to be a necklace, made perhaps by an open ring. Behind this figure an architectural background is clearly distinguishable, consistent with the trabeation of a building with a columned pronaos surmounted by Ionic capitals with volutes.
For mirrors, this type of decoration with a conversation scene is quite common, almost a stereotype, even if used more in the variation with four figures. Notwithstanding the lack of inscriptions to indicate the name of the protagonists, the conical cap and comparisons to analogous scenes on inscribed mirrors, lead to the proposed identification of the lateral figures as the Dioscuri; the scenes that illustrate them on incised mirrors form a large group that reaches its height at the end of the fourth century BC. The feminine figure could thus be Elinai (Helen), sister of the same Dioscuri, or Turan (the Etruscan Venus). The prototype, of either the three or four person variation, could have been represented in two ways, with the details then modified by the engravers: the first would Helen and the Dioscuri, to which a fourth figure could then be added, and the second would illustrate rather the Judgment of Paris.