A shallow dish with everted rim on low foot inscribed within the foot: ‘Muzio che lasua destra .e. rante coce’. A close variant of this inscription occurs on other pieces including a dish in the Victoria and Albert Museum which Bernard Rackham translates as ‘Mucius who burns his erring right hand’(Rackham 1940, no. 623).
In 508 B.C. when Lars Porsena of Clusium laid siege to Rome, the young Gaius Mucius Cordus crept into the Etruscan camp with the intention of assassinating him. He killed the wrong man, and when caught, thrust his right hand into a sacrificial flame to show his disdain for pain and fear. Lars Porsena was so impressed that he released the young assassin who became known by the cognomen Scaevola or left-handed. The legend is best known from Livy’s ‘History of Rome from its Foundation’, Dante referred to the legend in his Divine Comedy.
A different interpretation of the story occurs on two earlier bowls painted by Xanto in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge and the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (Poole 1996 pp. 345-46, no. 394, Wilson 2015 pp. 94 – 95).
Two sections of the rim of the foot restuck
Julia E. Poole, Italian Maiolica and Incised Slipware in the Fitzwilliam Museum, (Cambridge University Press 1996)
Bernard Rackham, Victoria and Albert Museum, Department of Ceramics: Catalogue of Italian Maiolica, (Victoria and Albert Museum, 1940), Volume I: Text. Volume II: plates
Timothy H. Wilson, Italian Maiolica in the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria, (National Gallery of Victoria 2015)