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Dioskourides  

Dimitris Plantzos

(fl late 1st century bc).

Roman gem-engraver active in Rome at the time of Augustus (27 bcad 14). According to Pliny, Dioskourides made ‘an excellent likeness’ of the Augustus emperor on the emperor's personal seal, which was also used as a state seal by successive emperors (Natural History 37.8). The story is repeated by Suetonius, who adds that Augustus ‘at first used the figure of a sphinx, afterwards the head of Alexander the Great, and at last his own, engraved by the hand of Dioskourides’ (Life of Caesar Augustus 50).

No fewer than 11 intaglios and cameos signed by Dioskourides survive (Richter, nos 664–72; Plantzos, 96–7), and many more have been attributed to him and his workshop. Dioskourides signed his name in Greek, with his name in the genitive case, as was customary for gem-engravers in the Greek world. Although several Roman artists of the Augustan period assumed a Greek professional name to enhance their business prospects, or signed their Italian names in Hellenized form and script, it seems that Dioskourides was actually of Greek origin. He belonged, therefore, to the wave of artists and craftsmen who came to Italy in the ...

Article

Eleutherna  

Dimitris Plantzos

[Satra]

Greek city situated on the island of Crete, by the north-west foothills of mount Psiloritis (anc. Ida), 30 km south-east of the present-day city of Rethymnon. It was a centre for Aegean and Greek culture from the Prehistoric to the Byzantine periods (4th millennium bc–7th century bc).

Ancient Eleutherna is a typical example of a Cretan polis (city) inhabited continuously from at least from the 9th century bc (the so-called ‘Dark Age’ of Greek history) to the late Roman and Byzantine period (6th–7th century bc). Even before that, archaeological finds suggest the existence of a continuous presence on the site from the late Neolithic (4th millennium bc) through to a flourishing Minoan site of the 3rd to 2nd millennia bc. Although later construction all but eliminated traces of prehistoric architecture, there is still significant evidence to confirm unbroken habitation. In historical times (9th century...