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Herm of Pan

Arte ellenistica

This herm, which portrays the god Pan, can be linked to an original from the milieu of Polykleitos, specifically the Sicyon branch of the Polykleitan school, as suggested by a few of the less formal details of the rendering of the hair, which date the work to the first century CE.

The animal-like nature of the god is expressed solely by two small horns on the figure’s head. The torso, with defined pectorals, is slightly turned to the left, while the head is moved slightly forward. The full, oval-shaped face has a low forehead framed by wavy curls. In 1832, Antonio Nibby, who identified the sculpture as the god Hermes, reported that it was in Room 2.

Object details

inizi I secolo d.C.
fine-grained Pentelic marble
height 151 cm; height of the head 25 cm

Unearthed during excavations in Torrenova along Via Casilina. Inventario Fidecommissario Borghese, 1833, C., p. 47, no. 82. Purchased by the Italian State, 1902.

Conservation and Diagnostic
  • 19th century: Work in marble on the base of the herm, the head and the nose; genitals removed.
  • 1996/1998 - L. Persichelli


This herm has a sculpted torso, the pectorals being particularly defined, and is slightly tapered towards the bottom; the genitals seem to have been removed. The shoulders are slightly turned to the left, and the head is moved slightly forward. The sculpture’s rendering of the god Pan plays down his animal-like features, which are lightly evoked by two small horns on the figure’s head. The face is full and squarish, with a low forehead, low brows and pronounced cheeks. The hair is parted in the middle and frames the face with soft wavy curls.

The position of the head suggests that the sculpture was not originally conceived as a herm and is a copy, datable to the early first century CE, of a bronze from the milieu of Polykleitos, two other exemplars of which are known: one in Florence from a private collection and one in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen (Poulsen 1951, p. 276, no. 403). Both the latter and the Borghese copy relax the formal rigour of the original in the especially dynamic rendering of the hair, which led Georg Lippold and Dorothea Arnold to posit a link to the initial phase of the Polykleitan school, specifically the Sicyon branch (Lippold 1950, p. 178, n. 17; Arnold 1969, p. 86).

In 1832, Antonio Nibby, identifying the herm as the god Mercury (Hermes), reported that it was in Room 2 and noted that it had been found during excavations carried out in the seventeenth century in the Borghese estate in Torrenova, along Via Casilina (Nibby 1832, p. 67, no. 1, pl. 31a).

Giulia Ciccarello

  • A. Nibby, Monumenti scelti della Villa Borghese, Roma 1832, p.67, n.1, tav. 31a
  • Indicazione delle opere antiche di scultura esistenti nel primo piano della Villa Borghese, Roma 1840, p.12, n. 2
  • A. Nibby, Roma nell’anno 1838, Roma 1841, p. 915, n. 2
  • Indicazione delle opere antiche di scultura esistenti nel primo piano della Villa Borghese, Roma 1854 (1873), p. 14, n. 2
  • A. Venturi, Il Museo e la Galleria Borghese, Roma 1893, p. 26
  • G. Giusti, La Galerie Borghèse et la Ville Humbert Premier à Rome, Roma 1904, p. 22
  • A. J. Rusconi, La villa, il museo e la galleria Borghese: con 157 illustrazioni e una Intagliotipia, Bergamo 1906, p. 79
  • Wolfgang Helbig, Führer durch die öffentlichen Sammlungen klassischer Altertümerin Rom (3° Edizione), a cura di Walther Amelung, II, Leipzig 1913, p. 238, n. 1540
  • A. De Rinaldis, La R. Galleria Borghese in Roma, Roma 1935, p. 10
  • G. Lippold, Die Griechische Plastik, in ”Handbuchder Archäologie”, VI. III. 1., Munich 1950
  • F. Poulsen, Catalogue of the Ancient Sculpture in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenaghen 1951
  • P. Della Pergola, La Galleria Borghese in Roma, (3° Edizione) Roma 1954, p. 9
  • R. Calza, Catalogo del Gabinetto fotografico Nazionale, Galleria Borghese, Collezione degli oggetti antichi, Roma 1957, p. 7, n. 8
  • W. Helbig, H. Speier, Führer durch die öffentlichen Sammlungen klassischer Altertümer in Rom, (4°Edizione), a cura di H. Speier, II, Tübingen 1966, p.720, n. 1959
  • D. Arnold, Die Polykletnachfolge, in “Jdi Ergänzungsheft” 25, Berlin 1969
  • M. G. Marzi Costagli, Una nuova replica del Pan del tipo Copenaghen Borghese, in “Archeologia Classica”, 28, 1976, pp. 40-48, in part. p.43, tav.XV, 1-2
  • P. Moreno, Museo e Galleria Borghese, La collezione archeologica, Roma 1980, p. 12
  • P. Moreno, S. Staccioli, Le collezioni della Galleria Borghese, Milano 1981, p.100, fig. 67
  • P. Moreno, A. Viacava, I marmi antichi della Galleria Borghese. La collezione archeologica di Camillo e Francesco Borghese, Roma 2003, pp.164-165, n. 134
  • Scheda di catalogo 12/00147837, P. Moreno 1976; aggiornamento G.Ciccarello 2020