Leo Mordico et Pruriretor, Getty Villa VII

Reminds me of the cat Ludwig in Arlo and Janis.

You may be feeling peckish at this stage in our tour of The Getty Villa. After all, you’ve dashed in and out of peristyles, flown up and down the stairs half a dozen times and repeatedly circumnavigated the atrium from up here on the second story, all in a sweat to get your classical education up 19th century British public school standards. And you have pretty well accomplished that. But now, like Leo Mordico in the mosaic above, you could really go for a fresh killed onager and an Orangina.

All in good time. Quell your rumbling belly with a handful of Tic-Tacs and follow me to only three more carven marbles. Then it’s time for The Cafe with its tempting offerings of “Mediterranean cuisine.”

If the famous poem “Lines on the Antiquity of Fleas” did not impress you with just how long man (homo) and woman (homolette) have been afflicted with itching perhaps this broke-up Roman (or Greek) figure will:

A little to the right... lower... higher... Ah! There! There!

This marble statue, dating from — Again, I made no notes; all facts are summoned from memory. —  from 8,000,000 B.C., is known today only as “Pruriretor” — The Itching One. There are those scholars who, in the spirit of Thalia, impishly refer to it as “Scaberetor” — The Scratching One — but we firmly reject that name as a bit of dry academic drollery; the sort of dusty jest students down the millenia have responded to with forced laughter if they responded at all. Just look at the position of the hand: facing out. How could Pruriretor be scratching with the back of his hand? He itches, but he does not scratch.

And that’s about all we can say regarding The Itching One. So many of its pieces have been misplaced over the years — arms. legs, the head or heads — that we can’t even say for sure if the remaining hand belongs to him or to, say, a dancing partner. For all we know it was added later. The shrouds of time have wrapped this one up good and tight.

Now, let’s visit two more antiquities — a pair of marble figurines from pre-Grecian Greece — and then you are released for lunch.


The Getty Villa.
Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles
It’s on the PCH just north of Sunset Blvd.
You need an entrance ticket to get in. Also a car. You can’t just walk up the drive.
The entrance ticket is FREE for the asking. So ask.
Parking is $10 no matter the size of the vehicle.


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