M214 – Charme de Circé

Emblematic female character in Homer’s Odyssey, Circe is a powerful enchantress skilled in metamorphosis and the preparation of drugs and potions. She set up residence of the island of Aeaea, surrounding herself with men transformed into lions, wolves or swine. The same fate as befell the crew of the hero Ulysses at her hand.

M215 – Jardins de Babylone

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon are one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World (the origins of the list are themselves unknown). Archaeological excavations of Babylon, in southern Iraq, have not found their ruins nor confirmed their existence. Based on the writings of Ancient Greek and Roman authors, many European artists have created their own idealised, lush versions which continue to fuel the legend.

M216 – Morphée

In Greek mythology, Morpheus is a god with prophetic dreams, whose function is to put mortals to sleep. In Greco-Roman art, he often takes the form of a young man with large, silent, rapid wings, holding a mirror and soporific poppies. He is said to be the son of Hypnos, God of Sleep, and Nyx, Goddess of the Night. Hence the expression “to be in the arms of Morpheus”, when referring to someone asleep.

M217 – Le fil d’Ariane

Eldest daughter of the King of Crete, Minos, Princess Ariadne falls in love with the hero Theseus, who had come to slay the Minotaur, a half-man, half-bull monster, held in the labyrinth built by Daedalus. She gives him a ball of yarn, which, when unrolled behind him allows him to find his way out of the maze after having defeated the monster.

M218 – Infinis Méandres

The meander is an antique ornamental pattern. Its repetition, a continuous straight line reversing on itself, creates a border called Greek Key, symbol of infinity, often used in Greco-Roman architecture. In mythology, Meander is river god linked to the river of the same name, situated in Asia Minor, part of the ancient empires of the Greeks, Persians and Romans – modern Turkey.

M219 – Mythe de Thésée

Every nine years, Minos, King of Crete, claimed tribute of seven young girls and seven boys from the city of Athens to feed the Minotaur, a half-man, half-bull monster, held in a labyrinth built by the architect Daedalus. Theseus, son of the King of Athens, takes to sea to defeat the Minotaur. Aided by Ariadne, daughter of King Minos, who falls in love with him, he defeats the monster thanks to her father’s sword which she gives him, together with the famous ball of yarn, which he unrolls behind him to find his way out through the maze.

M220 – Reflet de Narcisse

In Greek mythology, Narcissus is young man of exceptional beauty, making him vain and proud. One of the young women rejected by him goes to see Nemesis, Goddess of Retribution, who decides to punish Narcissus. Under the influence of the goddess, Narcissus falls in love with his own reflection in a pool. Having developed an unrequited love, he dies of sorrow.

M221 – Vents d’Ithaque

Ithaca is an island in the Ionian Sea, west of mainland Greece. According to Homer’s Odyssey, Ulysses was the King of Ithaca, the island he went back to after twenty years at sea and undergoing many tests set by the Gods. It is on Ithaca that his wife Penelope waited : each day weaving cloth which she then unpicks by night, under the pretext of not being able to take a new husband until the work is finished.

M222 – Corinthe

The Corinthian style is characterised by decoration essentially made of acanthus leaves. The acanthus leaf is an ornamental pattern widely used in classical Greek architecture.

M223 – Villa Kerylos

The Villa Kerylos, built and furnished in the style of Ancient Greek villas, is built on a rocky outcrop in the French Riviera, close to Beaulieu-sur-Mer. It was commissioned at the beginning of the twentieth century by the archaeologist and Greek scholar, Theodore Reinarch, who selected the architect Emanuel Pontremoli for the period 1902 to 1908. The villa with its neo-classical and Art Nouveau style is unique in France. Its stark, white facades contrast with the precious materials used its decorations and furnishings : alabaster, ivory, exotic woods, lemon wood, Carrara marble, bronze and leather.

M224 – Eurydice

Eurydice was a dryad, nymph of nature and wife of Orpheus, hero of Greek mythology, poet and musician. One day, Eurydice was bitten by a snake and succumbed to its venom. Orpheus went looking for her in the Underworld. He played the lyre to calm Hades and his companion Persephone, asking them to return his beloved to him. Hades accepted but on one condition : Orpheus must not turn around to look at Eurydice before leaving the Underworld. But before he left with her he turned around. Having broken his word, Eurydice returned to the Underworld forever, leaving Orpheus dejected.

M225 – Splendeur du Phenix

In all ancient cultures, the Phoenix is a symbol of resurrection and immortality. It was in the 5th century BC that the Greek, Herodotus, upon returning from Heliopolis in Egypt, recounted the legend of Benu : a heron-like bird, linked to the Sun god Ra and venerated by the Egyptians. Its name became the Phoenix, which means “red” in Greek. Every five hundred years, the Phoenix must be reborn through fire. It searches for a high summit and makes a nest of spices and aromatic herbs. Once in it, its feathers catch fire, burning the nest. It burns for three days and all that remains are hot ashes. From these ashes is reborn a new Phoenix.

M226 – Grâce

In Greek mythology, the Three Graces or “Charites”, Euphrosyne, Thalia and Aglaea, are goddesses who personify the intensity and fullness of life, as it was understood by the Greeks. They embody seduction, beauty, nature, human creativity. In the Arts, they oversee all playful or orgiastic activities : feasting when not hungry, dancing for pleasure, that is to say all unnecessary physical activities, or sexuality outside of marriage. They are part of the suite of the God Apollo and also that of Aphrodite. The goddess of beauty owes her charm and appeal to them.

M227 – Obsidienne

Obsidian is a black, red, grey or dark green stone of volcanic origin. It is created from very dense, silica- rich lava flows. Not commonly occurring, it can be found in abundance on the Greek islands of Milos and Gyali. It is prized in jewellery making and also in crystal healing, an alternative medicine which uses stones and crystals for healing.

M228 – Ambroisie

On Mount Olympus, ambrosia and nectar are the foods of the Gods : two divine forms of sustenance which replace solid foods and wine, which are reserved for mortals, thus ensuring their immortality.

M229 – Myrrhe

Myrrh is an aromatic gum or resin produced by the myrrh tree. The Ancient Greeks used it for ceremonial burning, perfumes – even to perfume their wine. Greek soldiers used it during fighting for its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. Myrrh is also associated with a legend : that of Myrrha, daughter of Cinyras, King of Cyprus. Guilty of incest with her father, with whom she is in love, the gods take pity on her and transform her into a myrrh tree. The bark of the tree splits giving birth to Adonis, a mortal of great beauty who becomes the lover of Aphrodite.

M230 – Déesse

Goddesses of Olympus like Athena or Demeter, enchantresses like the goddess Circe, goddesses of rivers or forests…Greek mythology has as many goddesses as there are female figures in our societies. These figures for whom temples have been built were appreciated and worshipped for their divine character, the myths surrounding them, the values they stood for, the traits, virtues or failings they embodied, like the men and women whose traits they endorsed.

M231 – Aphrodite

Similar to Venus in Roman mythology, this goddess has always been the subject of great interest and of many artistic representations since the Renaissance. The Venus de Milo by the Greek sculptor Alexandros of Antioch or The Birth of Venus by the Italian painter Botticelli are amongst the most well-known examples.

M232 – Caryatide

Caryatids are those statues of women bearing an entablature on their heads in place of a column or pillar. They are often dressed in a long tunics and have long braided or decorated hair. Caryatids appear mainly on Ionic buildings. Amongst the most famous caryatids are those of the Acropolis in Athens : there are six of them and they surround the Erechtheion.

M233 – Cortège des Néréïdes

Nereids are sea nymphs. There are fifty of them who form the suite of the god Poseidon. They live with him in the deep in a silver cave, somewhere in the Aegean Sea. They are represented as beautiful young women with pearls in their hair, riding dolphins or seahorses and holding in their hand either a trident or a branch of coral. Classical paintings and sculptures sometimes show them as mermaids alongside the tritons. Some Nereids are more well-known, such as Amphitrite, the wife of Poseidon or Thetis, the mother of the hero Achilles.

M234 – Les Moires

The Three Fates (or Moirai) in Greek mythology are the goddesses of birth, human destiny and death. They take the appearance of old spinners, weaving the web of existence. Clotho spinning destinies with her distaff, Lachesis handing out each person’s share and Atropos ending life with her scissors.

M235 – Jeux d’Olympie

The site of Olympus in Greece hosted the Ancient Olympic Games over almost twelve centuries, from 776BC to 394AD. It was the most important sporting event of ancient times, held in honour of Zeus : and of sufficient importance that an “Olympic truce” was called between warring Greek cities. The winners were treated as heroes and celebrated by poets, receiving gifts and honours in their home towns. Today, the Olympic flame is lit in Olympia, several months prior to the opening ceremony of the modern games.

M236 – Poème d’Homère

Nicknamed “The Poet”, Homer is the most famous storyteller of Ancient Greece, living in the 8th century BC and to whom are attributed the oldest two works of Western literature : The Iliad and The Odyssey, two epic poems, 15,000 and 12,000 verses long, which recount a large part of known Greek mythology. It is difficult to know today whether Homer was an individual or a created identity and if he was indeed the only author of these two epics (the famous “Homeric question”).

M238 – Cybèle

Goddess of Phrygia (in former Asia Minor, now in modern Turkey) Cybele is the most important goddess of the Ancient Near East, whose cult was brought to Greece and more especially Rome. Also known as “Magna Mater”, meaning Mother Goddess, she embodies the power and wild side of nature. She holds sovereign power over the reproduction of plants, animals, gods and men. Seated on a chariot pulled by lions, she holds a key which unlocks the riches of the Earth.

M239 – Pénélope

Penelope (from the Ancient Greek for duck or wild goose; “Pênelóps”) is the wife of Ulysses. During the hero’s twenty year exile, she pretended to weave a shroud, which she wove during the day then unpicked at night, to postpone the date on which she would have to take a new husband.