Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Coins in the Fountain at the Met's Greek and Roman Court

Although the fountain in the Leon Levy and Shelby White Court for Greek and Roman Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art was "designed to rrecreate the ambience of a Roman court," it has become a receptacle for coins. Pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters and even coins from other countries. Why do people throw coins in fountains? In an article published in the New York Times, Joan Mertens, the Met’s curator of Greek and Roman art, came up with a story, appropriately enough, from ancient Greece. Amasis, the king of Egypt in the sixth century B.C., predicted trouble for his ally Polykrates unless Polykrates showed some humility. Amasis, Ms. Mertens said, told Polykrates he should throw into the sea his most valued possession: an emerald ring. “Sort of as proof or a sign, someone in Polykrates’s household came in with a big fish who had the ring in his stomach,” she said, “so it came back to him.” From that, she said, came the notion of “casting away something that is meaningful to you, and if you’re lucky, you will be reunited with it.” The story still doesn't answer the question because people throw something of very little value into the fountain, and not valuable possessions.

1 comment:

Melissa xx said...

oh wow! It looks so magical with all the coins in it!