Never be too beautiful or too good if you do not wish to unleash the wrath of the gods. It is the terrible sin of hybris, in ancient Greek: ὕβϱις, pride, arrogance.
The goddess Athena invented a wind instrument, the aulòs. Yet to play it, one has to use their mouth in a "vulgar" manner, unlike the lyre of Apollo that can be played with the fingers instead. When Athena tried to play it, her cheeks swelled up, her face got deformed and so she threw it to the ground angrily.
One day a shepherd, Marsyas, found the instrument by chance and after bringing it to his lips he learnt to play it "divinely". He indeed became very very skilled! But better than the god Apollo?
Apollo challenged Marsyas: they would have to play their instruments upside down!
While the upside-down strings of Apollo's lyre could keep on playing perfectly, Marsyas's aulòs lost its sound instead. Marsyas was defeated!
And the punishment was severe. The fatal divine punishment: Marsyas was flayed alive!
Our curators and assistants take you to discover places and masterpieces of the Uffizi Galleries