Figures of the Etruscan underworld and the afterlife appear on funerary mirrors and already have been addressed by Alexandra Carpino and others like Nancy Thompson de Grummond. These characters include Mercury, the Dioscuri, and Eos. Scholars identify these by the attributes associated with Greek mythology, whose myths often are further mirrored in the Etruscan pantheon. Other notable scholars like Edmund von Mach have written on specific mirrors. For example, he mentions the Ajax Mirror in Boston of the fourth century BCE. This bronze mirror depicts Athena, or Men[e]rva in Etruscan, assisting Ajax in his suicide following the events of the Trojan War; however, von Mach did not connect this subject either to a larger Etruscan funerary context or other figures of the Etruscan afterlife. Nevertheless, Men[e]rva should be considered an Etruscan figure of the afterlife.
Men[e]rva’s image reflects her role as the goddess of wisdom and strategic war among the Etruscans as is the case with the Greeks. However, in this rare and unique depiction of the goddess, I will argue that she takes on a new role in Etruscan mythology. By looking at archaeological remains such as similar mirrors, pottery, and funerary contexts, I hope to demonstrate that this subject deserves to be categorized along with other underworld divinities and that this change is deeply rooted in how the Etruscans conceptualize the underworld and afterlife.
Rachael Maxon, ’12
Wichita Falls, TX
Majors: Classical Studies, Art and Art History
Sponsor: Christina Penn-Goetsch