The Dancers of Herculaneum. Naples Museum of Archaeology.

These statues were discovered at the Villa of the Papyri in Herculaneum. Originally believed to be dancers, their poses suggest to some that they may in fact be hydrophori, or water-carriers.

This brings to mind a passage from the Iliad about the fate of the women of Troy:

“Then, all your life in the Argives’ land you will work long days, bent over the loom of some stern mistress, or carrying water up from her well – hating it but having no choice, for harsh fate will press down upon you.”

 – The Iliad, Stephen Mitchell

Although these statues are beautiful works of art, they also remind us that the tales of ancient heroines did not alway end happily.

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