A bearded man sits in front of a wall in the foreground of the relief, holding a royal sceptre in his left hand. His right hand reaches towards an infant, taking him from the other, missing figure of the fragment. The comfortable posture of the child is typical of Dionysos. The relief shows a mythical scene: Hermes hands the son of Zeus, born from Semele, a mortal woman, to king Athamas to hide him from the fury of Zeus’ wife Hera. The king is made to look like Zeus: he is to become the father of Dionysos.
Marble analyses conducted by Danielle Decrouez (Geneva, Museum of Natural History) and Karl Ramseyer (University of Bern, Institute of Geological Sciences) have shown that the relief was made of Luna (Carrara) marble. Click here for the detailed results.