'The Metamorphoses', by the Roman poet Ovid, was published in 8 AD. In it, Ovid describes the seduction of Europa by the God Zeus. The story is this, that Zeus, upon seeing the beautiful Phoenician girl named Europa, turned himself into a beautiful white bull and hid himself amongst her father's herds. Disguised as the sacred bull, he seduces her and carries her off to the island of Crete. Once on Crete, Zeus reveals himself and Europa becomes the first queen of Crete and bears him three children.
Ovid describes it thus:
"And gradually she lost her fear, and he Offered his breast for her virgin caresses, His horns for her to wind with chains of flowers Until the princess dared to mount his back Her pet bull's back, unwitting whom she rode. Then—slowly, slowly down the broad, dry beach— First in the shallow waves the great god set His spurious hooves, then sauntered further out 'til in the open sea he bore his prize Fear filled her heart as, gazing back, she saw The fast receding sands. Her right hand grasped A horn, the other lent upon his back Her fluttering tunic floated in the breeze."
This gorgeous French bracelet showcases a hard stone cameo picturing the seduction of Europa in exquisite detail. Carved from banded agate, the cameo itself measures 19 mm high and 23 mm wide, it is set in a neoclassical French bangle which is completely handcrafted in 18 karat gold engraved with lovely swirling motifs. The cameo is surrounded by 27 3.5 mm white creamy pearls. The bangle is beautifully made, it is of hollow construction and has two hinges on either side of the center so that the links are completely form fitting. The clasp is adjustable by up to one inch with adjustments at 1/2 and 3/4 inches (so it can be either 6.5, 7 or 7.25 inches around. The top of the bangle measures 31 mm north south and 40 mm across, it is 8.5 mm wide at the back of the bangle and the top sits up 13.5 mm off the wrist. The bangle has one very small dent to the right of the cameo, it's quite hard to see and I don't think it would be wise to attempt to repair it, but it likely could be done, otherwise it is in exceptional condition, no doubt owning to the protection of the lovely velvet lined leather box that it came in. The bangle has the French assay mark of the eagle's head, indication 18k gold content and also a maker's mark in a diamond shaped cartouche. The bangle weighs 30 grams. Made in France circa 1860.
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