How the mighty have fallen… (Edit of the “Hermes Ingenui” in the Vatican Museum, by Valentina Di Liscia for Hyperallergic)

Oh, how the mighty have fallen: a bust of the Greek god Hermes, the revered messenger of Mt. Olympus, was discovered during routine sewage work in Central Athens last Friday, built into the wall of a drainage duct.

According to the Greek Culture Ministry, the head is in the style of the Herm of Hermes carved by Alcamenes, a Greek sculptor who worked in Lemnos and Athens in the second half of the fifth century BCE. Herms, stone columns topped by the head of Hermes that served as road markers, are among the oldest forms of Ancient Greek cult structures.

The newly-found work dates from the end of the fourth or beginning of the third century BCE. It depicts the god in adulthood, in contrast to more common renderings of the emissary god in the prime of youth.

The bust is reported to be in good condition and was immediately transferred to the Athens Ephorate of Antiquities, an agency of the Ministry of Culture.

Valentina Di Liscia is the News Editor at Hyperallergic. Originally from Argentina, she studied at the University of Chicago and is currently working on her MA at Hunter College, where she received the...