Carthaginian pottery bust of Queen Dido




A hollow moulded pottery bust depicting the legendary queen Dido, founder of Carthage, wearing a crested helmet in the artistic guise of Athena.

Details about Dido’s character, life, and role in the founding of Carthage are best known from the account given in Virgil’s epic poem, the Aeneid, which tells the legendary story of the Trojan hero Aeneas. Dido is described as a clever and enterprising woman who flees her ruthless and autocratic brother, Pygmalion, after discovering that he was responsible for her husband’s death. Through her wisdom and leadership, the city of Carthage is founded and made prosperous.

The bust rests on an integral plinth which retains some red painted decoration and there is an incised sgraffito maker’s mark F on the rear.

Tunisia, Carthaginian, 4th or 3rd Century BC

22.3 x 10.3 cms

Repaired from three fragments with losses as shown in the photographs

Ex. collection: Marius-Victor-Ernest Dumas (North Africa and France); acquired in Tunisia between c. 1890-1920. M. Dumas was Controleur Civile (French colonial administrator) of the city of Sousse in Tunisia prior to World War I. This collection of Roman and North African antiquities has remained in the family for the past 100 years in the Haute-Savoie region of France.