The Portland Vase

   The Portland Vase   at the British Museum

The Portland Vase at the British Museum

The Portland Vase is considered the finest example of Roman cameo glass in existence. It inspired Wedgwood and other English ceramicists who copied its look and aesthetics. It was smashed while on display at the British Museum in 1845 by a drunken William Lloyd, or rather William Mulcahy, who threw a Roman stone bust onto the case in which The Portland Vase was being displayed. 

The iconography has many interpretations, but depicts a set of gods in varying poses. One goddess is shown reclining on the ground with a dragon / snake emanating from between her legs. One fascinating interpretation of this is that she is Olympias, mother of Alexander the Great - with the snake being an incarnation of Alexander's father Apollo - suggesting reptilian paternity. 

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