Borrowed Gods

Borrowed Gods?
The Reception and Translation of Greek Myth in Archaic Cyprus


Dr. Derek Counts

(AIA Kershaw Lecture)


Department of Art History,
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee


Votive sculptures dedicated in Cypriote sanctuaries illustrate rather clearly the predisposition of Cypriote artists to appropriate and transform borrowed divine images and assimilate them into a local, polyvalent religious tradition. The ambiguity that arises from the liberal borrowing, mixing, and reconstitution of divine representations characterizes the visual record of Cypriote religion as early as prehistory. For example, divine figures bearing the trademarks of the traditional Greek Herakles–the lion, bow, and club–are found in nearly every artistic media present in the archaeological record of Iron Age Cyprus. In sculpture, this so-called “Cypriote-Herakles” (to distinguish him from his Greek counterpart) first appears in the role of a divine archer. At around the same time, representations of a triple-bodied, armed warrior, identified with the Geryon of Greek mythological fame also appear in certain Cypriote sanctuaries. This talk will examine the relationship between these two divine images, with special attention given to their function within a Cypriote religious context.

Dr Counts received a PhD in Ancient History and Mediterranean Archaeology from the University of California, Berkeley. He specializes in the archaeology of Greece, Cyprus, and the Eastern Mediterranean, Cypriote sculpture and its associated iconography, Cypriote sanctuaries and cult, and the archaeology of religion. In addition to his academic appointment, he is Co-Principal Investigator, under a National Science Foundation Grant, for a project on Research Experiences for Undergraduates, and since 2003 has been Associate Director of the Athienou Archaeological Project at Athienou, Cyprus. He has also excavated in Israel.


Further information: 973-655-3479 or 973-655-7420,

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