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The incredible stories of Ancient Greek heroes brought to life at the National Art Gallery in Sofia
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April 16, 2018

Orpheus, the legendary poet and musician was famous for his ability to charm all the creatures in the universe with his magical music. Orpheus has always been a symbol of eternal love that overcomes even death. Shrines devoted to Orpheus were considered oracles and were cherished by the inhabitants of Ancient Greece for hundreds of years. Some of those shrines exist even today and remind the modern people about the dive power of art and love.

The only existing vessels with gold depictions of Orpheus discovered so far are currently displayed in Sofia. They form part of the collection of the businessman Vassil Bojkov and together with 60 more artifacts will tell the magical story of the Golden fleece for three months. It is not a very well-known fact that Orpheus accompanied Jason and the Argonauts on their quest for the Golden Fleece and used his music several times to make their journey more bearable. On one occasion, he calmed the sea with his playing; another time, he saved the Argonauts from the deadly Sirens by playing so loudly that they could not hear the Sirens’ songs.

The objects displayed at the National Art Gallery in Sofia bring the magic of the legend of Jason and the Argonauts to life and most of them are available for the public for a first time. Sixty-two selected cultural valuables will take the viewers on a fabulous adventure with the Argonauts. They include gold and silver eastern vessels, red-figure vases, ritual silver-gilt vessels, funeral offerings, ritual sets, etc.

The restoration of some of the objects took months and huge effort on behalf of experienced curators.

The 62 pieces are part of the businessman Vassil Bojkov’s collection which comprises of more than 3000 antique objects.

There are only a few museums in the world that could present such a large and diverse collection of gold and silver objects that tell the myth of the Argonauts in such an enticing way, that the visitor starts questioning whether the story was really a legend or in fact Jason and the Argonauts truly existed once upon a time.

The incredible stories
Silver kantharos with gold ornaments and a scene depicting the sacrifice of a ram; Gold kantharos; Silver cup in the form of the ram’s head

Viewing the objects brings the visitors on a journey through a mythical past, sacred places, Thracian kingdoms and the lands of the enchanting Sirens. The exhibition shows in an unparalleled way our connection with the people of Ancient Thrace.

It was this silver kantharos depicting scene of sacrifice that prompted the present exhibition. There is only one more similar artifact in the world and it is displayed in the Metropolitan Museum in New York. The kantharos is an extremely exquisite object and has never been used for drinking wine. Instead, it was used for rituals honouring Dionysus, the ancient God of grape harvest, winemaking and wine, of ritual madness, fertility, theatre and religious ecstasy.

The collection presents interest to both experienced admirers of Thracian and Ancient Greek art and complete newcomers to the world of ancient magic. Although it is private, it is accessible for anyone interested to be immersed in the world of ancient heroes, Gods and legends.

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Millie Roberts, Freelance writer
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442038568406

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