Entrance to Cyrene Sculpture Museum

Cyrene Sculpture Museum


Cyrene Sculpture Museum lives up to its name: a wonderful collection of sculptures and statues, including statues of gods and goddesses, like Isis, Athena, Zeus, Apollo, Hermes, Demeter, Dionysus, and Cupid, portraits of Roman emperors and a bust of Alexander the Great, the marble group of the Three Graces, and the giant Sphinx (see below).


A massive collection of statues and sculptures from Cyrene Museum, including a giant sphinx in the middle of the room.

In addition to Greek and Roman statues the museum houses an interesting collection of Libyan sculptures which differ in style and execution (see below, left) from the Greek and Roman statues. Archaeologists agree that these sculptures, some of which were veiled and faceless, belong to the local Berber culture, dating from the 5th century BC to the Roman period. They were all found near tombs, either in niches or on bases, and thus were thought to have been used in funerary ceremonies, probably in relation to the worship of the Libyan Death-Goddess Persephone.


Libyan Berber sculptures from Cyrene Museumfemale busts from Cyrene Museum
Libyan sculptures belonging to the local Berber culture (left).


Statue of Satyr from the Antonine periodCyrenaican Goddess Isis holding a child
Statue of Satyr from the Antonine period, found in the Trajan Baths (left).
The Goddess Isis holding a child (right).



Cyrenaican Goddess    the great Libyan Goddess Isis from Cyrene Museum
Clio, Cleo, Kleio or Klew (the Goddess of History); and the Goddess of Agriculture Isis or Izis (right).

Cleo is also a woman's name, short for Cleopatra. Her arms may once held the sacred scroll, as the goddess was often represented holding an open scroll. She was a member of the family of the sacred nine muses, including   Kalliope (epic poetry), Ourania (astronomy), and Erato (erotic poetry).



the goddess Aphrodite from Cyrene museum, standing Goddess Leda statue

A Small Statue of The Goddess Aphrodite (left), and the Goddess Leda (right).

In Greek mythology the heroine Leda appeared in the myth of Leda and the Swan as the daughter of King Thestius, the wife of Spartan king Tyndareus (a king of Sparta), and the mother of several noble children, including the astrological Gemini twins Castor and Polydeuces. One day she was approached by promiscuous Zeus in the form of a swan and subsequently mated with her and as a result Helen was born.



the gorgon's head from Cyrene Museumthe head of Zeus in a box where it belongs

The Gorgon's Head (left); Zeus' head (right)





a bust from Cyrene Museum

A bust from the Apollo temple.


the Sphinx from Cyrene Museum

The Naxian Sphinx Goddess. A similar copy of the above statue is also found in Delphi Museum.


This mythical sphinx is a   fabulous creature with bird wings, a woman's head, and a lion's body and legs. Despite the nature of its legend, the statue conveys gentleness and compassion. The legend states that the goddess Hera placed the beast before the city of Thebes as a curse. To escape punishment, her would-be victims must answer the famous riddle of the creature that starts walking on four, then on two before ends up on three. When Cedipus replied: Man, who starts crawling on four as a baby, walks on two as an adult, and ends up using a walking stick at an old age, the sphinx extinguished herself and Cedipus became the king of Thebes. Subsequently the people of Naxos gave the sphinx to the Oracle of Delphi (the Apollo sanctuary).



The Discus Bearer of Cyrene

statue of the discus bearer

The Discus Bearer



statues of two children from Cyrene sculpture museum

Statues of two children from Cyrene Sculpture Museum.



Dionysus statue from Cyrene sculpture museum

Dionysus statue, from Cyrene Sculpture Museum, from the Roman period, and belonging to the type known as "Dionysus of Madrid".