Relief sculpture of a man, standing in profile.  Traces of pigment are visible on the work.

Archaic. Cast of the original in the National Archaeological Museum, Athens. Greek, marble, c. 520 BCE.

Eros, the Greek god of love, is depicted here as an adolescent, winged, boy with a bow. He bears his weight on his left leg, while his right leg is slightly bent. Eros holds his bow to the right of his body, grasping it with both hands. Despite the title of this work, debate swirls around Eros’ action – is he stringing or unstringing his bow? Is he testing the flexibility of the bow or rising from the crouched position needed to sting it? Regardless of his action, Eros’ dynamic position encourages the viewer to move around the sculpture in order to fully appreciate it.

This sculpture was a favorite of the ancient Romans and several copies of it exist. Due to its popularity, early historians deduced that a well-known, ancient sculptor must have created the original work and used writing by Pausanias to suggest it was the work Lysippos created for the Thespiea in Boeotia where there was an important sanctuary of Eros.

  • ancient greece
  • archaic
  • cast gallery
  • funerary stele
  • greek
  • stele