The Leper Terra-Cotta of Athens

Frances E. Hoggan
1893 Journal of Hellenic Studies  
In the collection of the terra-cottas at the Polytechnic in Athens many of the figures have points of interest bearing on the development of art, or on the science of comparative mythology or religion. One small figure (No. 943) is, on the other hand, of especial interest to the medical mind, affording as it does a good specimen of the typical leper physiognomy. It is a pitiful glimpse into the olden time which this figure gives, and, no less than a living imported leper I saw last spring at
more » ... Evangelismus Hospital, does it strike a discord with the beauty of Athens and its surroundings.This little figure is in the midst of a number of small, thick-set figures in rough terra-cotta, of uncertain origin. They were bought at a sale, and their history cannot now be traced ; but from their general character they are classed with others of about the third century B.C. They were evidently intended to be caricatures of contemporary life. Jolly, rollicking men suggest noisy Bacchic carousings; a portly, elderly woman bends with somewhat comical, grandmotherly solicitude over her nursling; and other well-executed, but more or less coarsely imagined, figures are so obviously designed to provoke laughter, that one pulls up with a start, and almost with a shudder, before the poor leper No. 943.
doi:10.2307/623894 fatcat:wfejaagnirhzhnh7vmi4vtake4