Metope of Temple C, Selinus (Herakles and the Kerkopes)


Archaic Period

Date: 575-550BC

Material: Limestone

Height: 1.47m

Location: Archaeological Museum of Palermo

Purpose and positioning: 

  • Doric temple, originally 10 metopes on facade of temple. Similar to Artemis central space of pediment occupied by enormous gorgon head. 
  • Carved in relief, sculptures attached to background in low relief project slightly from background. Flat pattern, NO 3D.

Subject matter: 

  • Narrative: Herakles and the Kerkopes 
  • Central moment of myth: Herakles fell asleep, 2 mischievous Kerkopes stole his weapons. Woke up, caught them and punished them, tied upside down to a pole and carried on shoulders. From Kerkopes vantage point had view of Herakles hairy bottom, amused him and let them go.


  • Well constructed design— based on play of symmetrical forms, large and small eg. arms, faces, hair carefully arranged to form a symmetrical composition.

Typically Archaic: 

  • Repetition
  • Angularity
  • Lack of facial expression

Numerous features of style and composition that reflect Archaic period.

  • Prime example of experimentation in Archaic period, mixture of views. Herakles face and torso frontal, body twisted somewhat unnaturally so


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