Eros earrings

late 4th century BCE
2 1/8 x 7/8 x 7/8 in. (5.4 x 2.22 x 2.22 cm) Height: 2 1/8 in. (5.398 cm) Diameter: 7/8 in. (2.223 cm)
Classical Art
Cecil H. and Ida M. Green Classical Galleries, Level 2
Dallas Museum of Art, the Cecil and Ida Green Acquisition Fund
Image courtesy Dallas Museum of Art

General Description

In contrast to Greek animal-head earrings (1991.75.62.a-b, 1991.75.63.a-b) created in the late 4th century BCE, the equally popular pendant earrings already had a long history by that time. The earliest examples date to the 6th century BCE. In the 4th century BCE, when the type enjoyed its principal vogue, pieces became more and more elaborate and enriched. During the following two centuries, the basic scheme remained unchanged: a decorative disk hides the ear wire and supports a pointed pendant. This simple scheme allowed numerous elaborations. This fine pair of earrings with dangling Eros figures is a later addition to the Dallas Museum of Art's extensive collection of ancient gold jewelry that was acquired in 1991.

Classical Greek jewelry was often closely tied to sculpture and these earrings are no exception. The fine detail, which includes the feathers on the wings and carefully modeled torsos, creates miniature versions of much larger Eros statues. Eros, the god of desire and the child of Aphrodite, was a popular motif on women's earrings, as he promised success in love and attainment of beauty. The fillets held out by the Eros figures figuratively crown the wearer with the prize of love and beauty. The amuletic character of the jewelry is also indicated by the small torsos attached to each piece, which have been interpreted as sexual charms. The delicate filigree work on the disk from which the figures dangle adds to the pair's refined charm. Similar complex earrings with dangling figures of Nike, or Victory, are also included in the DMA's collection (1991.75.74.1.A-B).

Adapted from

  • Barbara Deppert-Lippitz, Ancient Gold Jewelry at the Dallas Museum of Art (Dallas: Dallas Museum of Art in association with the University of Washington Press, 1996), 64, 135.
  • Anne Bromberg, "Eros earrings," in Dallas Museum of Art: A Guide to the Collection, ed. Charles Venable (New Haven, NJ: Yale University Press, 1997), 30.
  • Anne R. Bromberg and Karl Kilinski II, Gods, Men, and Heroes: Ancient Art at the Dallas Museum of Art. (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1996), 119.