Abstract: The Etruscan Underworld


Etruscan art represents many images of the Underworld, perhaps not surprisingly, since so much of it comes from graves in central Italy dating from 1000 to 100 BC. Many of the scenes include characters from Greek myth, which the Etruscans adopted as an integral part of classical culture, and used to express their own customs, ideas and religious beliefs. Etruscan art often illustrated the important idea of the Journey to the Underworld, a dangerous trip that was facilitated by local demons, in particular the beautiful female Vanth and her male partner, the hammer-wielding Charu. We will see examples of the survival of these figures in medieval and later time: it was no coincidence that the Renaissance started in the area where the Etruscans had lived, and where their art continued to be discovered.

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