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Georgian "Hebe & Hermes" Shell Cameo Earrings


Georgian "Hebe & Hermes" Shell Cameo Earrings



DATE: Cameos, Georgian c.1800 - Tops, Victorian c.1900

Cool antique shell cameo earrings, one carved to depict Hebe pouring ambrosia from a jar atop her head into a cup in her left hand, the other her half-brother Hermes complete with winged sandles and helmet and his caduceus. Both deities provided a service to the gods, Hebe as cup bearer and Hermes as messenger... I'm unsure if there's anything else in particular that links the two. They're carving is particularly beautiful, dating from the turn of the 19th century the pair are full of vigour and life.

Hebe was, to the ancient Greeks, goddess of eternal youth (or the prime of life, her Roman counterpart being Juventas) and forgiveness. Along with the usual Olympian traits of superhuman strength, immortality, vitality, etc., she had influence over eternal youth, and the ability to restore youth to mortals - a power seemingly exclusive to her. The daughter of Zeus and Hera, she was known for her incredible beauty and would go on to marry Heracles, at which point she resigned her position as cup bearer. Philostratus the Elder suggested that Hebe was the youngest of the gods, and since she was responsible for keeping them eternally young was the most revered by her divine counterparts. Pindar, in Nemean Ode 10, refers to her as the most beautiful of all goddesses.

Hermes was the messenger of the Gods and protector of mortal travellers, thieves, merchants, athletes, and orators. Indeed his Roman name, Mercury, is the root of our words merchant, merchandise, and commerce. The earliest records of his worship suggests origins as a cthonic deity, strongly associated with the the earth and the underworld; he guided the souls of the deceased as the crossed into the afterlife. He was known to be charming, cheeky, and cunning in equal measure. The son of Zeus and Maia the Pleiad, he acted as the emissary and herald of the Olympian Gods, aided by his winged sandals he was able to travel quickly between the mortal and divine world. He was known among the ancients as both a protector and "the divine trickster", referred to in the Illiad (where he allied with the Greeks) as "excellent in all the tricks", a "guide and guardian", and also "the bringer of good luck".




Drop: 4.3cm

Width: 1.6cm

Cameos: 2.7 x 1.6cm




No marks present, tests as 15k gold


Very good, light wear commensurate with age. Tops are latter additions (but still antique)

Georgian Hebe & Hermes Shell Cameo Earrings Georgian Hebe & Hermes Shell Cameo Earrings Georgian Hebe & Hermes Shell Cameo Earrings Georgian Hebe & Hermes Shell Cameo Earrings

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