Etruscan carving, 2nd century BC

Etruscan carving, 2nd century BC

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Credit: SHEILA TERRY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Etruscan funerary carving. Dating from the 2nd century BC during the Roman era, this alabaster carving shows one version of the legendary events that inspired the Ancient Olympic Games. The charioteer Myrtilus (centre) has taken refuge in a temple, and is being killed by Pelops (right). At left is Hippodamia, taking a damaged chariot wheel from Myrtilus. Hippodamia was the daughter of King Oenomaus of Olympia, Greece. Pelops took part in this chariot race to win the hand of Hippodamia. Myrtilus sabotaged Oenomaus's chariot, leading to Oenomaus's death during the race, but was then himself betrayed and killed by Pelops. Pelops married Hippodamia, but Myrtilus's dying curse brought misfortune on him and his sons. This carving, found in Volterra, Tuscany, is now in the National Archaeological Museum in Florence, Italy.

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