Fallen Caryatid Carrying Its Stone
This sculpture is another of those originally intended for Rodin's uncompleted masterwork, The Gates of Hell. The term caryatid originally referred to the ''women of Carie'', enslaved by the Greeks because their region had supported the Persians in the war between the two powers, a war the Greeks won. The term was later applied to Greek temple columns which were carved into the figures of women supporting a portico roof. Rodin used this motif for a sculpture referring directly to a passage in Dante's La Divinia Commedia. While his usual inspirations for The Gates of Hell came from the Inferno, this one stems from the Purgatorio where Dante sees a group of figures huddled beneath stones; Virgil identifies these as the prideful. Carved in Carrera marble, this piece has inspired a number of writers and artists, including Rainer Maria Rilke who commented that the caryatid ''bears its burden as we bear the impossible dreams from which we can find no escape.''