The Chimera of Arezzo

The Chimera of Arezzo

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The Chimera of Arezzo is an ancient Etruscan bronze currently in the Florence Archaeological Museum, and dated to circa 400 BCE.

The sculpture depicts the mythological Chimera, a hybrid animal consisting of a lion, with a goats head emerging from its back, and a tail in the form of a snake.

The bronze was unearthed in 1553 and claimed for the Medici collections in Florence.

On the right foreleg of the lion is an inscription, implying that the sculpture served a votive purpose in antiquity.

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The Chimera of Arezzo - History

This piece was published for the first time in March 1997

The features of this classic statue known as the "Chimera of Arezzo" are almost identical to those of all ancient images of Chimeras. This conventional representation, however, tells us little about the true origins of the myth.

This page is an attempt to unravel the origins of the myth. It is not meant to be the definitive word on this subject nor to contrast or replace the previous work of many distinguished archaeologists and art historians. The author just hopes to be able to suggest a few ideas that, maybe, someone will find of interest.

Ancient myths often tell of beings made out of several creatures joined together in a single one: a human head on a lion body makes a sphinx, on a bird's torso a siren, and on that of a fish a mermaid. Some of these beings are true races, as the centaurs (half man and half horse), the harpies (another kind of woman/bird mixture), and the satyrs (men with goat's legs). Others come as one of a kind, as the Minotaur (half man and half bull), Echidna (half woman and half snake), and the Chimaera (or Chimera), this time a mixture of lion, goat, and snake.

For us, the richness of this ancient Pantheon is - at most - a matter of curiosity, out of which it is hard to make much sense. The myth of the Chimaera seems to be a particularly baffling one. Surely, it is a spectacular story of the battle of a flying hero against a fire-breathing monster, but can it be that all this sound and fury signifies nothing but the slaying of an ugly beast? Perhaps there is more to it.

We can say that this is one of the first versions (perhaps the first) of the story of the hero and the dragon, a story pervasively embedded in western thought, repeated over and over in thousands of versions. But, in itself, the Chimaera can hardly be the origin of the myth of the Dragon. It is, rather, a version of some much more ancient myth, one that found its way in the stories told by Homer and Hesiod, and as such it was commented upon, illustrated in paintings and sculptures, and finally transmitted to us. But this story, as most ancient myths, is clearly a mixture of other stories and ideas, older myths, some perhaps going far backward, to when humankind still could not record thoughts in any other way than in story telling. Making sense of this mixture and finding the true origins of the myth of the Chimaera is not an easy task, but we can try.

Let's first review what we know. The literary sources are practically only two: Homer and Hesiod, back to - probably - the 9 th century BC, with later authors only adding minor details. According to Homer, the Chimaera was "in the fore part a lion, in the hinder a serpent, and in the middle a goat". Hesiod says almost identical words, although he specifies that the creature had three heads. Both also say that it was capable of breathing fire. All authors describe the Chimaera as female, and that may be something related to her name, that in ancient Greek means "young she-goat". Despite this rather humble name, she was of divine origin. Her father was the giant Typhon and her mother the half-serpent Echidna. She had as brothers Cerberus (the hound of Hell), Hydra (the nine-headed water snake) and Orthrus (another multi-headed dog).

The Chimaera was slain by Bellerophon, the hero. He was of divine origin, too, and in order to succeed in his task he first tamed the winged horse Pegasus (some say it was given to him by Poseidon, his father). Then he flew over the monster to avoid its fiery breath. Some say that the breath of the beast was so hot that it melted the hero's arrowheads. Others say that he placed a block of lead on the tip of his spear, that he thrust into the creature's throat. The flaming breath caused the lead to melt and hence to seal the Chimaera's guts , killing her. Of Bellerophon's career after this feat, we know that it wasn't easy and that the hero seems to have had a certain tendency to clash with female creatures, for instance he fought and defeated the Amazons. Eventually, Bellerophon's destiny was not a brilliant one, as he ended his life blind, lame and accursed, always avoiding the paths of men.

Just as the ancient reports about the Chimaera are all about the same, so are the images. We have several of them on vases, mirrors, and coins, as well as one large and well-preserved statue, the Chimaera of Arezzo. It seems that the artists of that time were proud of being faithful to the accepted model, just as storytellers were proud of telling their stories using the same words used by their teachers of old. So, all these images are remarkably similar. The three heads are clearly recognizable, with the goat's one sprouting out of the middle of the back. Even the posture of the creature is always the same, with the body arched up and the front legs rigidly extended forward. The lion's head is often pointing upwards with the mouth open and, in several cases, there are hints of flames coming out of it. These images roughly correspond to the literary version of the myth, although they also show details which do not appear in Homer and Hesiod.

This is, more or less, what we know. Now, what can we make out of it? What is the myth really about? Ancient authors of classical times asked themselves this question, too. The best known "rational" answer from ancient times is that of Servius Honoratus, writing in 4 th century AD. According to him, the fire-breathing creature was just the naïve representation of a volcano, a mountain named "Chimaera" located somewhere in ancient Lycia. Bellerophon was simply a settler who managed to establish himself there first. Other authors, such as Plutarch, said that Chimaera was the name of a ship, and others that she was a female warlord. In modern times, Servius' volcano has proven popular in mythology textbooks, even though it seems unlikely that our ancestors - naïve as they may have been - could not tell a volcano from a goat when they saw one.

Inghirami , writing in 19 th Century (Monumenti Etruschi, 1824), was one of the first to go beyond the traditional interpretations, developing a complex zodiacal symbology where Bellerophon drives the chariot of the sun and where the Chimaera is identified with the constellation of the lion, something that explains the "flaming breath" as a symbol of summer. Closer to our times, Robert Graves, in his Greek Myths (1955), came to a related astronomical interpretation when he suggested that the three parts of the creature were an allegory of the three seasons of the year, as it was subdivided in extremely ancient times. Graves also suggests that the Chimaera may be a representation of the prehistoric passage from a matriarchal society dominated by the Moon goddess to another one, dominated by sun kings. Nobody so far seems to have noted the possible relation of the myth with metal working, as it would be suggested by the detail of lead melting in the creature's throat. Just as we can see in Homer's "Trojan horse" a corrupted report about an ancient siege engine, we could see the Chimaera as a misrepresentation of an ancient furnace.

There is, certainly, something in each one of these ideas. Yet, it seems that no single one of them and perhaps not even all of them together, is really satisfactory. More likely, there is something deeper here, something that we cannot just explain away with volcanoes or blasting furnaces. To get there, we should rather free ourselves of these layers of interpretation that have accumulated over the centuries. So, first of all, let's say that the Chimaera, as a monster, doesn't make much sense. Maybe one could be scared by a lion, or by a snake as well. But by a goat? What is there so special about goats to have a monster made out - in part at least - of one? Anyway, the Chimaera would probably be a better monster without the useless goat head, that would have a hard time in harming anyone from the position in which it finds itself. The first to have reasoned that the goat head is not a head, after all, seems to have been Anne Roes in a paper of 1934 (JHS, LIV " The origins of the Chimaera" in festschrift Robinson 1155-64). The position and the shape of the head, it seems, is just a misrepresentation if what was - originally - a wing, actually a pair of wings.

To understand how a wing could become a goat, suppose you have never heard of the Chimaera, suppose you had just seen once the image of a winged lion or suppose you had seen it long ago and you are trying to remember what exactly it was. What would you say? Most likely, you would see - or remember - just a lion, a lion with something on its back, maybe someone riding it. We can't really do such a test on ourselves, but a situation not unlike the one we are describing took place in 1553, when an ancient statue of the chimera was unearthed near Arezzo, in Italy. The people of the time were much impressed by it, but the chroniclers initially just called it a "lion". It took a long time - maybe a year - for the chancellor of the city of Arezzo to realize, and write down, that the statue was really a Chimerae Bellerofontis simulacrum .

So, the origin of the myth may have been a winged lion. Lions lived as far north as in Greece and in Italy in very ancient times, but really they were best known in North Africa and in Mesopotamia. We have beautiful images of kings hunting and killing lions all over Egypt and Babylon. And we do have images of winged lions. So, We'll look first at images taken from the Babylonian tradition which started to be dominant in Mesopotamia from approximately the end of the 3rd millennium BC. We have here a drawing made from a bas-relief of the palace of Ninurta at Nimrud as reproduced in H. McCall: Mesopotamian myths, 1990. This image may perhaps go back to the Old Babylonian period, that is early 2nd millennium BC. The winged lion here bears a clear resemblance to the classic Chimaera. Blurring the image a bit, the wings of this lion could become a goat's head. Then, think of turning the image on its left side, and you have the same body posture of the Chimaera as we are used to, with the rigidly extended legs and the head angrily turned backwards. And the divine or semi-divine hero is a version of Bellerophon, although here not riding a flying horse but rather provided with wings himself (since the monster is flying, too, we have a fair fight). The hero is holding spiked or forked objects, some kind of weapons, perhaps lightning bolts. The image vividly suggests the movement of the clash, a battle of divine beings, high in the sky among thunder and lightning.

These images never come with captions, and we can only tentatively identify the creatures depicted. In this case, the hero is most likely the war-god Ninurta. As for the winged lion, we are probably seeing an image of Anzu, or Zu. Anzu is often described as a "bird" and it appears in several stories of the Babylonian mythology. Anzu's battle with Ninurta is described in a set of Akkadian tablets that go back to the 7 th century BC. It is said that Anzu had stolen the "Tablet of Destinies" of Enlil, king of the Gods. Consequently, Ninurta is dispatched to recover it. After a terrible battle, of course, the hero slays the wicked creature, and we have yet another version of the hero vs. dragon story.

Of course, it will be always impossible to prove that the first, unknown artist who painted a Chimaera as a lion with a goat's head on its back got the idea from this specific image. But the battle of a hero against a winged creature is not an uncommon theme in Babylonian art. Here is another version (again from H. McCall: Mesopotamian myths, 1990).

The posture of the protagonists and the general setting are the same as in the image seen before, the main differences here are that the monster is more bird-like and the hero is armed with a regular bow rather than with lightning bolts. However, the arrow is of a rather peculiar shape: with three tips, just like Ninurta's bolts. Also, the bow has some kind of "balls" on the outer surface which may make it, perhaps, a magical bow. All these are pictorial elements surely meaning something for the ancient, but difficult for us to interpret. Anyway, the fact that the hero is aiming at the open mouth of the beast is a common theme of both literary documents and pictorial scenes. It is a detail that shows how the creature is killed by shooting or throwing something into the open mouth, just like what happens to the Chimaera, killed by molten lead thrust in by Bellerophon. This point is clearly described in another epic battle of Babylonian mythology, that of Marduk against Tiamat, sea dragoness . In the battle, Marduk forces Tiamat to swallow a terrible wind that causes her to stretch her mouth wide, where he shoots an arrow that penetrates inside her body and kills her.

How did these images and the related myth evolve over time? We have here a complex story, mostly unknown to us. In the general turmoil of the early centuries of the first millennium BC many ancient traditions were lost and the cuneiform writing which had accompanied Mesopotamian civilizations for at least three millennia disappeared as a generally used way of communication. The myth of the winged lion was not lost, but with the decline of the Akkadian civilization which had created it (or, rather, inherited from the earlier Sumerian civilization) it became confused, and so did the images representing it. In an image from 8th-7th century BC, coming from a world now dominated by the Persian civilization, we have evidence of how the symbols have changed and of how part of the meaning has been maintained. (Taken from "The hero" by John Lash, 1995). pterugias , wings, the leather stripes of the gowns of their legionnaires). The hero is hitting the beast with a regular lance, and he is aiming at the neck rather than at the open mouth. But the position of the animal is very similar to that of the Anzu creature, and what is most revealing the relation is the position of one of the legs, unnaturally placed upwards and with the fingers drawn out in a sort of fan. Lions do not have legs like that, the only way we can make any sense out of this image is by assuming that the artist knew that the lion had to have "something" on his back but didn't quite know what. This kind of corruption of images is not unknown in ancient times.
Here we have several of the elements we had seen before, with a hero killing a lion. Many details, however, have changed. The hero is not winged anymore, even though the feathered dress does suggest wings (much later, the Romans would call

The "raised leg" image of hunted lions above is not unique. Here is another one still from Persian times, ca . 6th century BC (J. Lash, ibid.).

Here we have a king hunting lions, one of them is being trampled under the chariot, with a left leg raised up to attempt a last defense (but we would not be able to recognize the fanned paw for what it is, weren't we able to compare it with the previous image). In the sky, we see a bird with a human head and face that we can recognize as a symbol of Ahura-Mazdah, the supreme God according to Zarathustra or Zoroaster (the author is grateful to Reza Sharif for having pointed out this detail to him). The presence of the supreme God witnessing the triumph of a Persian king over an enemy is a common theme in Persian art and what we are seeing here is a version of the more ancient myth of Anzu, where the king/Ahura-Mazdah plays the role of Marduk and where the defeated lion is at the same time Chimera and Angra-Manyu, the evil spirit of Zoroastrism. In a later image from 4th century BC, however, the symbolism is lost and all we see is a king butchering ordinary lions (J. Lash, ibid.)

So, it seems that with the collapse of Babylonia many of the ancient myths were lost, and the new civilizations which appeared did their best to find a meaning for ancient stories and old images, but did not really succeed in getting all the pieces back together. The best they could do to explain the "something" on the back of the lion was that it could be a raised leg.

In Bayley's 1912 book "the lost language of Symbolism" we find another interpretation of this "something": a bent tail. These creatures are described as "The incomprehensible one furnished with innumerable eyes whom all nature longeth after in different ways". Bayley says that the twisted and tufted tail may have originated the Fleur de Lys symbol and maintains that the feline creatures are related to Jesus Christ who had been called sometimes "son of the Panther".

As it seems clear, the symbol of the lion with something on the back gave rise to a rich network of myths. It may well be that at the same times when the Persian transformed wings into a raised leg, someone in the central or western Mediterranean areas came to think that the protuberance was actually a goat's head. However, creative as our ancestors could have been, myths do not originate by chance. We have to think what it meant to them to transform wings into a goat's head. Why a goat head and not, say, a bird, or a fish, or whatever else? What is the meaning of a goat head? Why a female goat? And why is the goat so important to give the name to the whole three-headed creature?

So, to have a glimpse of what the myth was about, we must go backwards in time and try to find the remote origins of the winged lion. Before the Babylonian and Assyrian times, to the origins of their culture which is with the Sumerian civilization which started as early as in mid 5th millennium BC. Among the images that came to us from that time we do not find kings hunting winged lions, but we do find suggestive images nevertheless. This one is from on a clay Sumerian cylinder seal, going back, perhaps, to the first half of the third millennium BC (from Sumer by A. Parrot, 1960, p. 189).

Here, we have our winged lion and a Godlike figure holding three -pronged objects. Yet, the setting and the atmosphere have radically changed. The whole image, as many Sumerian ones, transpires an air of cosmic peace, of hieratic order. There is no monster here, and no armor-clad Bellerophon ready to choke it with molten lead. Rather, we have a naked goddess holding objects which may still be lightning bolts, but which are not necessarily weapons. The winged lion is a tamed animal, pulling a cart and sprouting something downwards. The lines out of the beast's mouth might be fire - as we'd expect from an ancestor of the Chimaera - but it would be hard to think that the beast is flaming down something destructive. Otherwise, how to explain the figure to the left offering water (or some other kind of drink) to the incoming divine cortege? If the lion is breathing out flames, these can only be - at most - the lightning bolts that accompany a storm. This lion is a thunder beast, the embodiment of a storm. The whole image seems to symbolize the fertilization of the land, with the sun chariot coming after the storm beast . And it is curious how the myth was turned around in all its aspects going to the Sumerian to the later Babylonian version. The female Goddess became a male God, the benign creature an evil one. Even the "lines", that in this image clearly go out of the mouth of the beast as fertilizing water , in later times became arrows or bolts going into the mouth of the creature as killing weapons.

    As a dragon, you poured venom over the country
    when you roar towards earth like thunder there is no vegetation that can resist
    Flood coming from the mountains
    oh sublime , you are Inanna of the sky and of the earth
    A burning fire filling the country
    she who received as gifts the me's from An , the lady riding a beast

Note how similar is the Goddess figure here to that of Ninurta in the Babylonian relief that we showed earlier on. Both are winged, both carry three -pronged or spiked objects that may be lightning bolts. But here - again - the atmosphere is much different and far gentler. A hint of what is happening may perhaps be found in the words told by Gilgamesh to Ishtar (the Babylonian name of Inanna) in a later saga (early 2 nd millennium BC). Here, Gilgamesh describes how the Goddess enslaved or killed her previous lovers, including the lion (probably intended as someone strong as a lion) for whom she dug "seven and seven pits". Another possible reference is in the Huluppu tree story, where Inanna's garden is invaded by three creatures, one of whom is the Imdugud bird.

With these stories and images we have reached as far back as the sources permit us. In the myths of these remote ages there are no certainties about what we have been searching, only hints. Yet, the material we have is highly suggestive and may be sufficient to get us close to an interpretation. So, the main point here seems to be that turning moment in human history when, as pointed out - for instance - by Campbell (" The masks of God") a whole set of cosmic beliefs turned from a Goddess-ruled system to a male dominated system, where the main God is a father figure. In this cosmic revolution, ancient myths and histories changed their meaning as well. The winged lion, the storm beast of Sumerian times, ceased to be a symbol of fertilization and became an evil monster. The goddess, she who rode the lion and at times she herself a lioness, became, too, an evil creature just as her lion pet . At this point, the center stage was stolen by the male hero, Ninurta or Marduk, who was there to slain her and to affirm his male superiority. It is interesting to note that in Babylonian stories the winged lion Anzu is not characterized as male or female, but in the parallel myth of Tiamat we are clearly told that she is female, just like in the later myth of the Chimaera. Tiamat was the mother of the gods, and - once - queen of heaven. She was slain in a most gruesome manner by her own son, Marduk. So Tiamat, the Chimaera, perhaps Anzu, too, could be grotesquely deformed images of the ancient mother goddess, the one called at times Inanna in Sumer, Ishtar in Babylonia, Astarte in Phoenicia, Sekhmet or Isis in Egypt, Cybele in Anatolia, Durga or Kali in India (she who rides the tiger. ). A goddess once benign (albeit occasionally cruel) whom time and bad press have transformed into a monster ("all evil is rotten good" - a quote from Poul Anderson).

So, the Chimaera is in the end a grotesque and deformed image of the mother goddess and it embodies all the evil that men can think about women. In classical times and the middle ages, this concept was sometimes explicitly expressed. In the "Malleus Maleficarum" (15th century) Kramer and Sprenger, in a most politically incorrect series of statements, pile up injury after injury on women, culminating with the report of this passage by Valerius (1st Century AD), an author much fashionable throughout the middle ages. "You do not know that woman is the Chimaera, but it is good that you should know it for that monster was of three forms its face was that of a radiant and noble lion, it had the filthy belly of a goat, and it was armed with the virulent tail of a viper". The comment of Kramer and Sprenger is that Valerius "means that a woman is beautiful to look upon, contaminating to the touch, and deadly to keep".

So, why were the wings of the lion transformed into a goat's head? Now we can try to explain that, too. First, the concept of "female goat" may derive from a verbal confusion. We said that the winged lion was a storm beast in the Sumerian-Babylonian mythology. Now, "storm" is "Cheimon" in ancient Greek, and this may explain the transformation into "young goat", Chimaera . But the most important point relates to the goat (and specifically the female goat) as a symbol in European mythology. Goats, male or female, are not common as monsters, but in the Christian myth of the devil, as well as in the Greek one of the Satyrs, the goat element seems to be meant to evidence the "unclean" nature of the creature. This uncleanliness seems to be the main reason of the appearance on the Chimaera's back of the goat together with the snake, another malignant creature in most mythologies. Having piled up all sorts of ugly attributes on it, the creature had lost all the noble aspects which may pertain to a lion and a Goddess and was thoroughly transformed into an evil monster, ready to fight its last battle and to be slain by some radiant hero.

In this interpretation there are many details that are just reasonable guesses, and - actually - everything might even be wrong. However, the very fact that we can make these considerations illustrates the richness of the myth. The Chimaera is no mere monster. It is a reflection of unbelievably ancient stories, stories that involve some of the most powerful symbols and concepts that act on the human mind: the snake, the dragon, the mother , fertility, the thunder, the hero's quest, the slaying of the evil one. All this is concentrated and distilled in the Chimaera, a beast of many forms and of many meanings.


According to Hesiod, the Chimera's mother was a certain ambiguous “she”, which may refer to Echidna, in which case the father would presumably be Typhon, though possibly the Hydra or even Ceto was meant instead. [4] However the mythographers Apollodorus (citing Hesiod as his source) and Hyginus both make the Chimera the offspring of Echidna and Typhon. [5] Hesiod also has the Sphinx and the Nemean lion as the offspring of Orthus, and another ambiguous "she", often understood as probably referring to the Chimera, although possibly instead to Echidna, or again even Ceto. [6]

Homer gives a description of the Chimera in the Iliad, saying that "she was of divine stock, not of men, in the fore part a lion, in the hinder a serpent, and in the midst a goat, breathing forth in terrible wise the might of blazing fire." [7] Both Hesiod and Apollodorus give similar descriptions: a three-headed creature, with a lion in front, a fire-breathing goat in the middle, and a serpent in the rear. [8]

According to Homer, the Chimera, who was reared by Araisodarus (the father of Atymnius and Maris, Trojan warriors killed by Nestor's sons Antilochus and Trasymedes), was "a bane to many men". [9] As told in the Iliad, the hero Bellerophon was ordered by the king of Lycia to slay the Chimera (hoping that the monster would instead kill Bellerophon), but the hero "trusting in the signs of the gods", succeeded in killing the Chimera. [10] Hesiod adds that Bellerophon had help in killing the Chimera, saying "her did Pegasus and noble Bellerophon slay". [11]

A more complete account of the story is given by Apollodorus. Iobates, the king of Lycia, had ordered Bellerophon to kill the Chimera (who had been killing cattle and had "devastated the country"), since he thought that the Chimera would instead kill Bellerophon, "for it was more than a match for many, let alone one". [12] But the hero mounted his winged horse Pegasus, "and soaring on high shot down the Chimera from the height." [13]

Although the Chimera was, according to Homer, situated in foreign Lycia, [14] her representation in the arts was wholly Greek. [15] An autonomous tradition, one that did not rely on the written word, was represented in the visual repertory of the Greek vase-painters. The Chimera first appears at an early stage in the repertory of the proto-Corinthian pottery-painters, providing some of the earliest identifiable mythological scenes that may be recognized in Greek art. The Corinthian type is fixed, after some early hesitation, in the 670s BC the variations in the pictorial representations suggest multiple origins to Marilyn Low Schmitt. [16] The fascination with the monstrous devolved by the end of the seventh century into a decorative Chimera-motif in Corinth, [17] while the motif of Bellerophon on Pegasus took on a separate existence alone. A separate Attic tradition, where the goats breathe fire and the animal's rear is serpentine, begins with such confidence that Marilyn Low Schmitt is convinced there must be unrecognized or undiscovered local precursors. [18] Two vase-painters employed the motif so consistently they are given the pseudonyms the Bellerophon Painter and the Chimaera Painter.

A fire-breathing lioness was one of the earliest of solar and war deities in Ancient Egypt (representations from 3000 years prior to the Greek) and influences are feasible. The lioness represented the war goddess and protector of both cultures that would unite as Ancient Egypt. Sekhmet was one of the dominant deities in upper Egypt and Bast in lower Egypt. As divine mother, and more especially as protector, for Lower Egypt, Bast became strongly associated with Wadjet, the patron goddess of Lower Egypt. [ citation needed ]

In Etruscan civilization, the Chimera appears in the Orientalizing period that precedes Etruscan Archaic art that is to say, very early indeed. The Chimera appears in Etruscan wall-paintings of the fourth century BC. [ citation needed ]

In Indus civilization are pictures of the chimera in many seals. There are different kinds of the chimera composed of animals from the Indian subcontinent. It is not known what the Indus people called the chimera. [ citation needed ]

In Medieval art, although the Chimera of antiquity was forgotten, chimerical figures appear as embodiments of the deceptive, even satanic forces of raw nature. Provided with a human face and a scaly tail, as in Dante's vision of Geryon in Inferno xvii.7–17, 25–27, hybrid monsters, more akin to the Manticore of Pliny's Natural History (viii.90), provided iconic representations of hypocrisy and fraud well into the seventeenth century, through an emblematic representation in Cesare Ripa's Iconologia. [19]

The myths of the Chimera may be found in the Bibliotheca of Pseudo-Apollodorus (book 1), the Iliad (book 16) by Homer, the Fabulae 57 and 151 by Hyginus, the Metamorphoses (book VI 339 by Ovid IX 648), and the Theogony 319ff by Hesiod.

Virgil, in the Aeneid (book 5) employs Chimaera for the name of a gigantic ship of Gyas in the ship-race, with possible allegorical significance in contemporary Roman politics. [20]

Pliny the Elder cited Ctesias and quoted Photius identifying the Chimera with an area of permanent gas vents that still may be found by hikers on the Lycian Way in southwest Turkey. Called in Turkish, Yanartaş (flaming rock), the area contains some two dozen vents in the ground, grouped in two patches on the hillside above the Temple of Hephaestus approximately 3 km north of Çıralı, near ancient Olympos, in Lycia. The vents emit burning methane thought to be of metamorphic origin. The fires of these were landmarks in ancient times and used for navigation by sailors.

The Neo-Hittite Chimera from Carchemish, dated to 850–750 BC, which is now housed in the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, is believed to be a basis for the Greek legend. It differs, however, from the Greek version in that a winged body of a lioness also has a human head rising from her shoulders.

Some western scholars of Chinese art, starting with Victor Segalen, use the word "chimera" generically to refer to winged leonine or mixed species quadrupeds, such as bixie, tianlu, and even qilin. [21]

The Etruscan Chimera of Arezzo: Greek Attic Influence in Ancient Italy

The Chimera of Arezzo is one of the best known pieces of Etruscan sculpture to survive from antiquity. Discovered near the Porta San Lorentino of Arezzo, Italy (ancient Arretium) in 1553, the statue was added to the collection of Cosimo I de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany in the sixteenth century and is currently housed in the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Florence.

Chimera from Arezzo, c. 400 B.C.E., bronze, 129 cm in length, (Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Florence)

When the statue was discovered along with a collection of small bronzes, it was cleaned by Cosimo I and the artist Benvenuto Cellini it was then displayed as part of the duke’s collection in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. Giorgio Vasari (16th century artist, writer, and historian), studied the statue and declared it a bona fide antiquity.

What is a chimera?

Chimera from Arezzo, c. 400 B.C.E., bronze, 129 cm in length, (photo: E.M. Rosenbery © Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici della Toscana-Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Firenze)

The Chimera was a legendary, fire-breathing monster of Greek myth that hailed from Lycia (southwestern Asia Minor). The offspring of Typhon and Echidna, the Chimera ravaged the lands of Lycia until Bellerophon, a hero from Corinth, mounted on the winged horse Pegasus was able to slay it (Hesiod Theogony319-25). Typically the Chimera is a hybrid—often shown with elements from more than one animal incorporated into the whole most often these include a lion’s head, with a goat rising from its back, and a snaky tail.

Detail of back, Chimera from Arezzo, c. 400 B.C.E., bronze, 129 cm in length, (Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Florence)

The Chimera of Arezzo presents a complex composition that seems conceived for viewing in the round. The contortions of the fire-breathing beast, obviously wounded in combat, evoke emotion and interest from the viewer. Its writhing body parts invite contemplation of the movement, pose, and musculature of the figure. While the tail was restored post-discovery, enough of the original composition confirms this dynamism. The lean body also emphasizes the tension in the arched back, the extended claws, and the roaring mouth set amidst the bristling mane.

Detail with inscription “tinścvil”, Chimera from Arezzo, c. 400 B.C.E., bronze, 129 cm in length, (Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Florence)

The right foreleg (above) bears a dedicatory inscription in the Etruscan language. The inscription reads, “tinścvil” meaning “Offering belonging to Tinia” (TLE 663 Bonfante and Bonfante 2002, no. 26 p. 147). This indicates that the statue was a votive object, offered as a gift to the sky god Tinia.


Detail with lion’s head, Chimera from Arezzo, c. 400 B.C.E., bronze, 129 cm in length, (Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Florence)

The Chimera of Arezzo is a masterwork of Etruscan bronze working, demonstrating not only a high level of technical proficiency on the part of the artist (or workshop) that produced it but also clearly showing a fine-tuned awareness of the themes of Greek mythology that circulated around the Mediterranean. A. Maggiani discusses the wider Italiote context in which the statue was likely produced—pointing out iconographic comparisons from sites in Magna Graecia such as Metaponto and Kaulonia (Italiote refers to pre-Roman Greek speaking peoples of southern Italy, while Magna Graecia refer to the Greek colonies established in Southern Italy from the 8th century B.C.E. onward).

These iconographic trends, indicative of increasing Attic (derived from the area around Athens, Greece) influence, suggests that the Chimera of Arrezo was produced by Italiote craftsmen who were influenced by the spread of Attic trends in art in the last years of the fifth century continuing through to the early fourth century B.C.E. The dedication of the statue as a votive offering to Tinia further reminds us of the wealth and sophistication of Etruscan elites who, in this case, could not only afford to commission the statue but could also afford to part with it in what may have been an ostentatious fashion.

Additional Resources

G. Bonfante & L. Bonfante, The Etruscan language: an introduction, revised edition (Manchester University Press, 2002).

L. Bonfante, “Etruscan Inscriptions and Etruscan Religion.” In The Religion of the Etruscans, edited by N.T. De Grummond and E. Simon, pp. 9–26 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2006).

W. L. Brown, The Etruscan Lion (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1960).

M. Cristofani, “Per una storia del collezionismo archeologico nella Toscana granducale. I. I grandi bronzi,” Prospettiva, 1979, vol. 17, pp. 4–15 .

M. Cristofani, I bronzi degli Etruschi (Novara: Istituto Geografico De Agostini, 1985).

M. Cristofani, “Chimereide,” Prospettiva vol. 61 (1991), pp. 2-5.

A. M. Gáldy, “The Chimera from Arezzo and Renaissance Etruscology,” in Common Ground: Archaeology, Art, Science, and Humanities. Proceedings of the XVIth International Congress of Classical Archaeology, Boston, August 23–26, 2003, edited by C.C. Mattusch, A.A. Donahue, and A. Brauer, pp. 111–13. (Oxford: Oxbow, 2006).

A. M. Gáldy, Cosimo I de’Medici as Collector: Antiquities and Archaeology in Sixteenth-Century Florence (Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009).

M. Iozzo et al., The Chimaera of Arezzo (Florence: Edizioni Polistampa, 2009).

M. Pallottino, “Vasari e la Chimera,” Prospettiva, vol. 8 (1977), pp. 4–6.

R. Pecchioli, “Indagini radiografiche,” in La Chimera d’Arezzo, edited by F. Nicosia and M. Diana, pp. 89–93 (Florence: Il Torchio, 1992).

C. M. Stibbe, “Bellerophon and the Chimaira on a Lakonian Cup by the Boreads Painter,” in Greek Vases in the J. Paul Getty Museum, vol. 5, edited by M. True, pp. 5–12 (Occasional Papers on Antiquities, vol. 7) (Malibu: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 1991).

J. M. Turfa, “Votive Offerings in Etruscan Religion,” In The Religion of the Etruscans, edited by N.T. De Grummond and E. Simon, pp. 90–115 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2006).

Beth Cohen, “Chimera of Arezzo,” The American Journal of Archaeology, July 2010 (114.3).

“Chimera in Bronzo,” from the Ministero per i beni Culturali e Ambientali Soprintendenza Archeologica della Toscana Sezione Didattica (in Italian)

Works Cited

Bartoloni, G., ed. 2010. La Lupa Capitolina: Nuove prospettive di studio. Rome: L&rsquoErma di Bretschneider.

Bottini, A., and E. Satari, eds. 2007. Il sarcofago delle Amazzoni. Milan: Electa.

Brecoulaki, H. 2001. L&rsquoesperienza del colore nella pittura funeraria dell&rsquoIalia preromana (V&ndashIII secolo a.C.). Naples: Electa.

Carruba, A.M. 2006. La Lupa capitolina: Un bronzo medievale. Rome: De Luca.

Cristofani, M. 1985. I bronzi degli Etruschi. Novara: Istituto Geografico De Agostini.

Goldscheider, L. 1941. Etruscan Sculpture. New York: Phaidon.

Maggiani, A. 2009. &ldquoThe Chimaera of Arezzo.&rdquo In The Chimaera of Arezzo, edited by M. Iozzo, 29&ndash37. Florence: Edizioni Polistampa.

Orlandini, P. 1983. &ldquoLe arti figurative.&rdquo In Megale Hellas: Storia e civiltá della Magna Grecia, edited by G. Pugliese Carratelli, 329&ndash554. Milan: Libri Schweiller.

Small, J.P. 1991&ndash1992. &ldquoThe Etruscan View of Greek Art.&rdquo Boreas 14&ndash15:51&ndash65.

Small, J.P. 2008. &ldquoLooking at Etruscan Art in the Meadows Museum.&rdquo In From the Temple and the Tomb: Etruscan Treasures from Tuscany, edited by P.G. Warden, 41&ndash65. Dallas: Meadows Museum.

Sprenger, M., and G. Bartoloni. 1983. The Etruscans: Their History, Art, and Architecture. New York: Harry N. Abrams.

The Etruscan Chimera of Arezza can be seen in the archaeological museum of Florence.

In Etruscan times the city was known for its metalworking and pottery. Originally an enemy of Rome, the city was later forced to undergo Roman rule. In the battle against the Gauls, Arezzo even fought on the side of the Romans.

During the Imperial period, the city experienced a period of prosperity.

In the 11th and 12th centuries, Arezzo was a fiefdom of the bishops. The city expanded and the walls around the center grew longer and longer. It was during this time that the city was first divided into districts. These districts of Arezzo were all named after the city gates.

After becoming a city-state, Arezza began a politics of expansion. The first result was the victory over Siena.

In 1289, at the Battle of Camaldino, Arezzo suffered a major defeat against the forces of Siena and Florence.

Under Bishop Guido Tarlati, who became feudal lord of Arezzo in 1321, the city grew in influence again.

After Tarlati’s death, the city came under Florence and kept this subordinate role until the unification of Italy.

The Chimera of Arezzo - History

Dates: Friday and Saturday, December 4 and 5, 2009
Time: 1:30 to 5:00 p.m. on Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Saturday with reception to follow.
Location: Getty Villa, Auditorium

This scholarly colloquium brings together an international group of art historians, archaeologists, and conservators to discuss the latest research on an extraordinary bronze sculpture, the Chimaera of Arezzo, on view at the Getty Villa through February 8, 2010.

Topics to be explored include the iconography of Bellerophon and the Chimaera in Greece, south Italy, and Etruria the archaeological context of the Chimaera and its role in Etruscan religion technology and conservation history and the sculpture's reception in Renaissance Florence.

Confirmed speakers include:

  • G. Carlotta Cianferoni, Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Florence
  • Francesco de Angelis, Columbia University, New York City
  • Andrea M. Gáldy, Florence University of the Arts, Florence
  • Nancy T. de Grummond, Florida State University, Tallahassee
  • Alessandra Giumlia–Mair, AGM Archeoanalisi, Meran, Italy
  • Martin Henig, Wolfson College and St. Stephen's House, Oxford
  • Mario Iozzo, Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Florence
  • Fulvia Lo Schiavo, Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici della Toscana, Florence
  • Alain Schnapp, University of Paris I—Panthéon–Sorbonne, Paris, and Getty Research Institute
  • Salvatore Siano, Istituto di Fisica Applicata Nello Carrara, Florence
  • P. Gregory Warden, Southern Methodist University, Dallas

Narrative, Myth, and Society in Early Etruscan Culture (public lecture)
Giovannangelo Camporeale

Date: Thursday, December 3, 2009
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Location: Getty Villa, Auditorium
Admission: Free.

Giovannangelo Camporeale, professor emeritus of Etruscology at the University of Florence, explores the spread of Greek myths—such as that of Bellerophon and Chimaera—and their representation in the art of central Italy between 600 and 400 B.C.

In early Etruscan art of the ninth century B.C., figural scenes were seldom represented. Motifs consisted primarily of elementary, geometric patterns, although scenes depicting animals, hunts, dances, and funerary rituals do appear. After the seventh century B.C., narrative scenes derived from Greek and Near Eastern mythological imagery became more numerous. Like their predecessors they were employed to decorate prestigious artifacts in diverse media and promoted aristocratic values.

Camporeale's presentation is the annual Ferdinando and Sarah Cinelli Lecture in Etruscan and Italic Archaeology, presented in cooperation with the Archaeological Institute of America and the Etruscan Foundation.

How to Get Here
The Getty Villa is located at 17985 Pacific Coast Highway in Pacific Palisades, California, approximately 25 miles west of downtown Los Angeles. See Hours, Directions, Parking for directions and parking information.

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Mixed messages: is research into human-monkey embryos ethical?

W hen King Minos of Crete was given a magnificent bull by the sea god Poseidon for a sacrifice, he could not bring himself to kill it. In anger, Poseidon enchanted Minos’s wife Pasiphaë to be filled with lust for the creature. The result of their trans-species mating was the bull-headed monster the Minotaur.

Hybrids of humans and animals throng within myth and legend: centaurs, mermaids, goat-footed Pan. We’re both fascinated and uneasy about the boundary that separates us from other animals – and whether it is leaky.

So the recent report by a team in the US and China of embryos that contain a mixture of human and monkey cells mines an ancient seam of anxiety. What strange hybrids are we creating, and why?

Living entities containing the cells or tissues of more than one species are technically called chimeras – the name of a legendary monster that Homer described in The Iliad as “lion-fronted and snake behind, a goat in the middle”.

We’ve long known that these mosaic-style animals are possible. A chimera with a mixture of goat and sheep tissues, called a geep and having a goat’s head but a sheep’s woolly body, was reported in 1984. Chimeras are generally made by transferring stem cells, capable of growing into a range of tissue types, from one species into the embryo of another. In some circumstances, the foreign cells can keep growing and thriving in their new host.

The unease provoked by such biological patchworks is considerably stronger when the chimeras contain human cells. But these have been known for years too. Human embryonic stem cells have previously been inserted into sheep foetuses and mouse, rabbit and pig embryos. Some of these cells can survive for days.

Such experiments might evoke grotesque echoes of HG Wells’ maverick mad scientist Doctor Moreau, who “humanised” animals by surgery. But there are good reasons for them. In particular, the shortage of human organs such as kidneys for transplantation – which leads to many potentially preventable deaths from organ failure – could be solved by growing “human” organs in animals.

Several years ago, Japanese biologists Hiromitsu Nakauchi and Toshihiro Kobayashi pioneered a trick for getting cells injected into an embryo from another species to develop into just the organ you want. They created a “niche” for the foreign cells by genetically modifying the animal embryos so that they can’t grow the target organ – a liver, say – on their own. The embryo will then use the guest stem cells to make it instead.

The technique has been shown to work for growing rat organs, such as pancreases, in mice, and vice versa. But rodents obviously can’t be the hosts for full-grown human organs for that you need a larger animal. In 2017 a team led by Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California, showed that human stem cells added to pig embryos could survive for up to four weeks.

But in contrast to rat-mouse chimeras, the human cells grew in only small and dwindling proportions: not enough to generate human tissues and organs. “It was a disappointing outcome,” says Jun Wu, who was a postdoctoral researcher in the Salk team and is now at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. “Why is it so difficult for the human cells to survive?”

The Chimera of Arezzo, a 5th century BC bronze sculpture, depicts the chimera of Greek mythology, part lion, part goat and part snake. Photograph: Science History Images/Alamy

Izpisua Belmonte suspects it is because we’re too distantly related to pigs: our branch of the evolutionary tree diverged from theirs 90m years ago. That’s why he and his colleagues, collaborating with Weizhi Ji’s group at the Kunming University of Science and Technology in Yunnan, China, have now made human-monkey chimeras. Because our evolutionary relationship to monkeys (the researchers used macaques) is closer – we diverged around 20-30 million years ago – the researchers figured the two cell types might get along better, and hoped to discover more about what promotes their compatibility. “If we can learn about the crosstalk between the cells,” says Wu, “we might be able to improve on the pig work.”

Of the 132 chimeric embryos the researchers made and cultured in a dish, most died before day 17 after fertilisation. Just three were still alive at day 19. But the researchers say that, in general, the human cells seemed to integrate better with the monkey cells than they had in pig embryos. Several embryos still had around 4-7% of human cells by day 15.

This means that human-monkey chimeras might be able to support more intimate and extensive mixtures of the two types of cell, with less predictability about where they might end up growing. Nakauchi, now at Stanford University in California, says that the ethics of such experiments are most fraught if they generate “ambiguous animals, such as a pig with a human face or human brain”. That might be impossible even in principle, given the evolutionary distance between pigs and humans – but for monkeys it’s less clear. So we should avoid making human-animal chimeras with a large human component, he says – and perhaps use genetically modified human stem cells that can’t make brain cells. Wu agrees, but stresses that they never intended to implant any of their chimeric embryos for further growth anyway – the aim is not to grow human organs in monkeys. He doesn’t think that should be contemplated if we don’t know where the human cells might end up.

“What matters to me is where the human cells go and how many there are,” says biologist Marta Shahbazi, who works on embryo development at the University of Cambridge. “If we confine them exclusively to an organ of interest, like a pancreas, that’s OK: a mouse with a pancreas made of human cells is in no meaningful sense ‘human’. But for a mouse with human stem cells spread throughout all the tissues, the answer is not so clear. And for a monkey, things get even more blurry.”

Alfonso Martinez Arias, a developmental biologist at Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona thinks the claims of Izpisua Belmonte and colleagues are completely overblown anyway. He thinks all they have really shown is that when some human cells are added to monkey embryos, they become moribund. “If you add some extraneous cells that make it more difficult for the embryo to survive, what have you learned from what is a rather sick biological entity?” he asks.

“Human-monkey chimeras are not coming soon, and may never come,” he says. “In any case, we don’t need them – not to answer biological questions, nor to solve problems associated with organ donors.”

A mouse, a rat-mouse chimera, a mouse-rat chimera, and a rat. Photograph: Tomoyuki Yamaguchi / NAKAUCHI ET AL./THE UNIVERSITY OF TOKYO

Even if so, other human-animal chimeras surely are coming. Yet they are banned in many countries. Nakauchi moved from Japan to the US to escape such restrictions, ironically only to encounter a moratorium on federal funding of this kind of research in 2015. The ban in Japan was lifted in 2019, but even so Nakauchi says that the new guidelines make it “practically very difficult to get approval”. This reticence frustrates him: “Animal-grown organs could transform the lives of thousands of people facing organ failure. I just don’t understand why there continues to be resistance.” Izpisua Belmonte insists that his work on monkey-human chimeras paid “utmost attention to ethical considerations”.

Some of the issues are covered by existing regulations, for example on animal welfare: it would not be ethical to use pigs to grow human organs if the animal suffered as a result. And because human embryonic stem cells are generally taken from excess IVF embryos donated for research, donors should be told if the cells were to be used for such a controversial purpose. “This particular use of human tissue might be one that donors would find particularly icky,” says Hank Greely, a specialist in bioethics and law at Stanford.

It’s not easy, though, to know who should regulate this research, or what rules they should apply. In the UK, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, created in 1990 in the wake of IVF, regulates work on human embryos, but has no jurisdiction for work involving human stem cells transferred to animal embryos. That, says Shahbazi, would instead require approval from the UK Stem Cell Bank steering committee.

These frameworks don’t pay any heed to how “humanised” a chimera is Shahbazi says that an animal embryo with 80% human cells is a very different entity from one with 5%. What’s more, it is possible in principle to make chimeras in which the animal embryo becomes just a housing for a developing organism made only from human cells. Could such a thing be implanted in the womb of a cow or a gorilla? It’s not obviously impossible.

Human cells (red) stud a lab-grown monkey embryo. Photograph: Weizhi Ji/Kunming University of Science and Technology

Maybe a uterus won’t even be needed. Recently, a team in Israel reported mouse embryos gestated in glass containers filled with a nutrient medium for up to half the full gestation period – the heart was pumping and the limbs were starting to form. “In theory one could apply that method to culture chimeric human-mouse embryos and get to foetal stages,” says Shahbazi.

She sees this potential for development as an ethical Rubicon. As long as chimeric embryos can’t develop beyond a relatively early stage, she sees no problem. “Would I be comfortable if the mouse-human chimeric embryo was transferred to a recipient mouse female and allowed to develop to term? No. For me there is a limit.”

While it is possible to imagine sci-fi horrors like pigs with human brains, there is no obvious motivation for attempting such an experiment. And when the research has a well-motivated, humanitarian goal, like producing human organs for transplants or getting better understanding of embryo development to address fertility problems or the causes of miscarriage, bans based purely on an instinctive aversion need to consider what potential benefits are lost. “Growing human organs in pigs would, if it works, save lots of lives,” says Greely. Ultimately, says Izpisua Belmonte, “we conduct these studies to understand and improve human health”.

All the same, we can’t simply hope all scientists will have the best motives. Some might want simply to make a self-aggrandising splash. Take the maverick Greek Cypriot biologist who claimed in 2003 to have made a human-cow chimeric embryo that could in theory have been implanted into a woman’s womb. Or the Chinese researcher He Jiankui, who shocked the world in 2018 by using gene editing – with unknown consequences and risks – on human embryos implanted for IVF.

At this point, says Shahbazi, it’s not hard to imagine a situation where the ethical and legal guidelines “do not reflect the complexity of the biology”. The International Society for Stem Cell Research will present revised guidelines for stem-cell research, including human-animal chimeras, this month. Wu welcomes that prospect – he says it’s easier to do this work when it is clear what is and isn’t permitted. “The public should also know that there are guidelines, and that this sort of work is not out of control,” he says.

Until recently, human-animal chimeras were simply the stuff of legend and folklore: hardly a good basis for making ethical judgements. Yet the history of deliberations in assisted conception shows that such stories have a dangerous tendency to sway our perceptions when nothing better is on offer. The issues need far-reaching societal discussions, says Greely. But will they be able to keep up with the science?

Works by Blob around the streets of Arezzo

Art really knows how to swim and to do so wear a mask and snorkel 🌊

Klicken Sie auf den unteren Button, um den Inhalt von booking zu laden.

From Dante to Leonardo, Mona Lisa, Salvador Dalì and Marilyn Monroe … a great idea, designed with a mask and mouthpiece with bubbles painted on the gas and light doors of Arezzo.

Nothing is known about him, only that he is Florentine, who has become popular in the world of the web. One thing is certain, it has the ability to make art accessible to everyone 🎨.

Arezzo History

Described by Livy as one of the Capitae Etruriae (Etruscan capitals), Arezzo (Aritim in Etruscan) is believed to have been one of the twelve most important Etruscan cities—the so-called Dodecapolis, part of the Etruscan League. Etruscan remains establish that the acropolis of San Cornelio, a small hill next to that of San Donatus, was occupied and fortified in the Etruscan period. There is other significant Etruscan evidence: parts of walls, an Etruscan necropolis on Poggio del Sole (still named "Hill of the Sun"), and most famously, the two bronzes, the "Chimera of Arezzo" (5th century BC) and the "Minerva" (4th century BC) which were discovered in the 16th century and taken to Florence. Increasing trade connections with Greece also brought some elite goods to the Etruscan nobles of Arezzo: the krater painted by Euphronios ca 510 BC with a battle against Amazons (in the Museo Civico, Arezzo 1465) is unsurpassed.
The commune of Arezzo threw off the control of its bishop in 1098 and was an independent city-state until 1384. Generally Ghibelline in tendency, it opposed Guelph Florence. In 1252 the city founded its university, the Studium. After the rout of the Battle of Campaldino (1289), which saw the death of Bishop Guglielmino Ubertini (it), the fortunes of Ghibelline Arezzo started to ebb, apart from a brief period under the Tarlati family, chief among them Guido Tarlati, who became bishop in 1312 and maintained good relations with the Ghibelline party. The Tarlati sought support in an alliance with Forlì and its overlords, the Ordelaffi, but failed: Arezzo yielded to Florentine domination in 1384 its individual history was subsumed by that of Florence and the Medicean Grand Duchy of Tuscany. During this period Piero della Francesca worked in the church of San Francesco di Arezzo producing the splendid frescoes, recently restored, which are Arezzo's most famous works. Afterwards the city began an economical and cultural decay, which fortunately ensured that its medieval centre was preserved.
In the 18th century the neighbouring marshes of the Val di Chiana, south of Arezzo, were drained and the region became less malarial. At the end of the-century French troops led by Napoleon Bonaparte conquered Arezzo, but the city soon turned into a resistance base against the invaders with the "Viva Maria" movement, winning the city the role of provincial capital. In 1860 Arezzo became part of the Kingdom of Italy. City buildings suffered heavy damage during World War II the Germans made a stand in front of Arezzo early in July 1944 and there was fierce fighting before the town was taken and liberated on 16 July by the British 6th Armoured Division. The Commonwealth War Graves cemetery is located to the North West of the city where 1,266 men are buried. Pope Benedict XVI visited Arezzo and two other Italian municipalities on Sunday, May 13, 2012.

Watch the video: What Etruscan Sounded Like - and how we know (August 2022).