Mirror with Achilles, Thetis, Athena, and Automedon.
Etruscan, c. 300 BC
Bronze. 14,8 cm diameter
Inventory number: H2170
A scene from Homer’s Iliad decorates this mirror. The sea nymph Thetis is giving her son Achilles his new weapons made by the divine smith Hephaestus. On the left stands the goddess Athena, on the right Automedon, Achilles’ charioteer. There is a temple façade in the background. Athena may be the Olympian deity who has most frequently been identified on Etruscan mirrors. This is explained by her easily recognisable attributes: helmet, spear, aegis (a shield or breastplate adorned with the Gorgon Medusa’s head) and owl. Many of the Etruscan mirrors have figure decorations engraved on the reverse. These are often of everyday happenings such as dressing scenes with young men and women bathing, dressing and smartening themselves up. The most popular motifs, however, were scenes from Greek mythology as in the present instance. The mythological figures on the mirrors can often be identified via inscriptions in Etruscan or Latin. These inscriptions on mirrors are at the same time an important source for our knowledge of Etruscan literature and the Etruscan gods.