332 BC–AD 395
Bronze, solid cast
Overall: 6.2 cm (2 7/16 in.)
Bequest of Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. 1958.100
The word hippopotamus is a Greek compound word combining “horse” (hippos) and “river” (potamos).
This hippopotamus steps forward with its rear left leg lifted off the ground and its head arched upwards. The hippopotamus was a Nilotic animal associated with Egypt and the Nile River that was brought to Rome and put on display in the Colosseum as part of venationes, or wild beast hunts. The rise of “Egyptomania” in the Roman Empire surged under the emperor Hadrian (reigned AD 117–38). Extant Egyptian examples of hippopotamus figurines are less animated and made of materials such as stone or pottery rather than bronze, making the pose and materiality of this object distinctly Greco-Roman.
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