KEY: C - K


Category Sub-category Detail    Identity; Possible Symbolism; Definition
CENTAUR carrying off woman Centaur Nessus & Deianeira, wife of Heracles/Hercules
CENTURION Bearded male, especailly in a jugate composition with a woman behind a hero of the Trojan War, exact identity not always clear
Beardless male, short curls showing, especially if spear showing Mars/Ares
Long hair straying out from ornate helmet
Athena/Minerva, may also be wearing jewelry or have braids tied under chin
CHAIR a throne, generally only royalty sit raised from ground
CHARIOT 2 horses

a biga; most often driven by Nike or Mars/Ares; less often, Aurora/Eos  see also Days of the Week

3 horses a triga, not characteristic of any particular figure, but sometimes seen on an ambitious Nike or lazy Apollo
4 horses a quadriga; most often driven by Apollo, except when scene is clearly terrestrial with mortal, anonymous charioteer  see also Days of the Week
drawn by 2 women 1 standing passenger: Luna/Diana being drawn by nymphs or Hours  see also Days of the Week; 2 seated passengers, Cupid on shaft: Aurora & Cephalus (Tithonus?)
drawn by cocks Mercury/Hermes see also Days of the Week
drawn by doves Venus  see also Days of the Week
drawn by eagles Zeus/Jove  see also Days of the Week
drawn by lions 2 lions: Cybele's chariot, sometimes driven by other figures; 4 lions: Aequitas
drawn by winged serpents Saturn  see also Days of the Week
drawn in water woman: Amphitrite, Venus, Galatea; sometimes Cupid
scallop shell Venus, sometimes Cupid
CLOUDS usually stylized swirls around bottom of figure or scene, indicating the location is Mt. Olympus; in Christian scenes: heaven
COLUMN(S) Short see plinth
Framing scene setting is a palace
CORNUCOPIA horn of plenty Tyche/Fortuna; can be confused with a torch
CREATURES Mythical dog, 2 heads Orthrus or Orthus (also Orthros, Orthos) dog of tiple bodied giant Geryon, slain by Hercules
dog, 3 headed Cerberus, guardian of the gates of Hades
dragon, winged serpent St. George; Perseus; draft animal of Saturn's chariot; sometimes on helmet of Minerva/Athena
eagle + lion gryphon, griffin, griffon
goat + fish Capricornus, Aigipan
horse + fish hippocampus (horse + sea monster), pl. hippocampoi
horse, winged Pegasus
lion+ goat + snake Chimaera
man + bull head Minotuar, bull of Minos
man + fish Triton, triton
man + goat Pan, faun, satyr, silenus
man + horse centaur
man + horse + fish ichthyocentaur
woman + bird harpy; siren
woman + lion Sphinx, pl., sphingai
CROSS/CRUCIFIX       a number of saints have a cross or crucifix as one of their symbols, including Mary Magdalen & St. Thérèse de Lisieux
CROWN generally, royalty, a ruler among gods or mortals
DANCING   3 women   Three Graces; individual figures may be bacchantes or simply dancers, usually indicated by being on tiptoe
    women holding hands   Hours surrounding the Chariot of the Sun; Wedgwood "Dancing Hours"
DIADEM worn by female divinities & semi-divinities, lower than the polos, plain edge; a stephane
DRINKING VESSELS Stemmed no handles a kantharos: for drinking wine; often in scenes with Bacchus/Dionysus or his revels; generally indicates the enjoyment/celebration of wine
FAIRY(IES) winged, floating in air Cupid; Psyche; Aurora/Eos; nymph; fairies only appear on some quite modern cameos
FEATHER check Ceres to see if it's really wheat pretty lady, long hair up: consider art nouveau; in headband of woman with short hair: 1920s flapper
FEATHER PEN see quill pen
FIRE Brazier/tripod element in scenes of ritual, sacrifice or prophecy
Hearth Goddess Vesta/Hestia
Torch carried by Cupid: for inflaming the passions; carried by Genius of Light or eagle in company of Day or Aurora/Eos: daylight, daybreak, dawn
FLOWERS Corsage on shoulder, head anonymous beauty; a style popular in the 1930s
Lily associated with Gabriel, Angel of the Annunciation
  Mixed carried or strewn   Aurora/Eos or Spring
   worn in hair
trailing down: goddess Flora; if also mixed with stalks of wheat: Ceres
Roses may be added to almost any female figure; particularly associated with Mary & St. Therèse de Lisieux; Apollo also sometimes wreathed with roses
GLADIATOR see centurion
GLOBE woman with laurel wreath: Muse Urania
HALO a circle of light just above the head indicating a saint, including archangels; not the same as the lines radiating from Apollo or other bringers of light
HAND(S)   1 holding flower(s) or 2 clasped   friendship
HELMET       helmets are worn by the gods Athena/Minerva/Roma & Mars/Ares; Trojan War heroes
HORNS Goat's Pan; faun
Ram's, curled Alexander the Great; Ammon Zeus
JAR 2-handled an amphora: for holding liquids, especially wine
Large, handled a container for wine, seen in revel or offering scenes
Small, lidded sometimes seen with Psyche; the container for the dab of Proserpina's beauty/perfume she must bring to Venus
  Water     woman holding or offering to man: Rebecca at the Well
KNEELING Girl/Woman with bird   Hebe
KNIGHT Bust bearded a hero
no beard Athena/Minerva, will usually have other indications figure is female, such as jewelry or very long hair; monster on helmet: Perseus
On horse dragon St. George; an Amazon