Niobe Head at the Egyptian Civilization museum in Cairo

In this episode, we’ll be visiting the Niobe Head at the Egyptian Civilization museum in Cairo. Welcome to Art, Culture & Books with me, Anthony King.

This 2nd century AD marble head was found in Luxor. Achilles referred to her in Homer’s Iliad, recounting her arrogant pride. In response, Leto punished her by sending Apollo and Artemis to eliminate all her offspring. Subsequently, her children remained unburied for nine days, during which she refrained from consuming any food. She was also mentioned in Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”.

The museum label tells us:

Niobe was the daughter of Tantalus, king of Phrygia in Asia Minor, and the wife of Amphion of Thebes, who founded the Greek city of Thebes and built its walls, the Greeks considered her a patroness of education and knowledge, and a goddess of Thebes. Niobe and Amphion had seven sons and seven daughters, all of them which were of beauty and splendor, and Niobe always bragged about them, which provoked the jealousy and anger of the goddess Leto, the wife of Zeus, who only gave birth to Apollo and Artemis. Which lead Leto to plan a revenge on Niobe, where Apollo killed the boys and Artemis killed the girls; Niobe wept for the loss of her children, until she turned to rock…”

By Anthony King (c)