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Gaius Mucius Scaevola's ordeal by fire: Gaius Mucius is thrusting his hand into the fire blazing on an altar before the king Lars Porsena, surrounded by onlookers. Etching and colour woodcut by A. Pond, 1735, after P. Caldara da Caravaggio.

  • Polidoro, da Caravaggio, approximately 1495-approximately 1543
  • Pictures

About this work


The print shows Scaevola thrusting his left hand into the fire, whereas according to the legend it should be the right hand (Livy, De urbe condita II.13 "dextramque accenso ad sacrificium foculo inicit"). The inconsistency is presumably due to the reversal of the composition in the printmaking process

Gaius Mucius Scaevola stole into Lars Porsenna's camp in an attempt to assassinate him, but by mistake killed his secretary instead. On being arrested, he showed his indifference to the prospect of torture by thrusting his right hand into a fire, hence his surname Scaevola (left-handed)


[London], [1735]

Physical description

1 print : etching, and woodcut printed in buff ; image and lettering 22.8 x 30.2 cm


Pulcherrimi exemplaris possessori, qui diviti venae pertinacem industriam, artibus graphicis studia graviora, raro exemplo, adjunxit, Ionathani Richardson suum hoc imitamentum dedicatum vult Arthurus Pond. Polidoro da Caravaggio. APond fecit 1735.

References note

Evelyn Wöldicke, 'John Baptist Jackson's woodcuts and the question of embossing', Print quarterly, 2017, XXXIV, pp. 298-310 (this print discussed pp. 306-309)
R. Weigel, Die Werke der Maler in ihren Handzeichnungen, Leipzig: R. Weigel, 1865, no. 6079, p. 510 ("... Pond und Knapton 5")


Wellcome Library no. 2917964i



  • Latin

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