6 Reasons to Visit The Louvre's Greek & Roman Art Galleries

If you love ancient Greek, Roman & Etruscan history then take a journey to the Louvre art museum. Its collection of art from from Greece, Italy, and the Mediterranean basin spans from Neolithic times (the 4th millennium BCE) to the 6th century AD.

Major highlights to be seen in this section of the Louvre include Venus de Milo, the Nike of Samothrace, the triumph of Neptune and Amphitrite, and Hercules resting. But there's a lot more to the collection. Here are six other ancient artworks worth a detour. We'll tell you the highlights of the ancient world and share a few insider tips to make your visit to the Louvre more memorable.


The Best Louvre Museum Tours

Skip-the-line Guided Tour of the Louvre Museum
Skip the Louvre lines with an expert guide to get past the crowds and into the museum to visit the masterpieces.
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Evening Louvre Tour & Wine Tasting
Skip the line on an evening tour of the Louvre. Afterwards, attend a guided tasting of French wine at a classicParisian bar.
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Louvre Museum Insider Tip

Louvre skip-the-line tour

Museum fatigue is real, and if you've ever visited any large museum you know it can hit you within the first hour. There's simply too much ground to cover, too much art to look at and experience. That's why we recommend booking a Louvre guided tour to get the most out of your visit. Best part? You get to skip the incredibly long line. We'll send you to the most popular Louvre tour.

Six Ancient Reasons to Go to The Louvre

Agrippa Young Slave Winged Horse
Vase in the Form of a Woman's Head Artemis Hera of Samos

1. Agrippa – 25 to 24 BCE

The stern face is Agrippa, Roman general and son-in-law of emperor Augustus. There were many statues of him and it's believed the original large bronze had a prominent place in the Roman Pantheon in about 25 BCE. This sculpture was discovered in 1792 in Prince Camille Borghese's villa and was acquired by Napoleon in 1807 along with the entire Borghese collection. Located in the Denon Wing, Room 23.

2. Young Slave – Late 2nd to Early 3rd Century CE

Discovered in the ancient baths of Aphrodisias, in what is now Turkey, the decorative statuette in black marble shows evidence of the taste for the exotic that prevailed in the Roman Empire. The statuette depicts a a young slave wearing a short tunic gathered at the waist and fastened over his shoulder; in his left hand he holds a flask of perfumed oil. Ethiopian slaves often worked in the baths during the late second and early third centuries BCE.

3. Winged Horse – 4th Century BCE

The small, bronze, winged horse was discovered during excavations of the temple to Zeus in Dodona, northwestern Greece. The horse's long wings represent Pegasus, the mythical horse that sprung from the blood of Medusa. The sculpture has a twin, that mirrors it, found in the National Museum in Athens. Together, they form a symmetrical pair that were probably used to decorate the handles of a vase dedicated to Zeus. Located in the Sully Wing, Room 32.


4. Artemis, Goddess of the Hunt – 4th Century BCE

The Greek goddess Artemis to the Greeks — Diana to the Romans — was the twin sister of Apollo. Artemis is shown here in action, with her tunic tucked to her knees to make it easier to hunt. A cape is flung over her left shoulder and it clings to show her strong, athletic figure. The classic, natural drapery of her clothes and her proud majesty, suggests the statue is from the second Classical period of the 4th-century BCE.

The statue was a gift from Pope Paul IV to Henri II and was one of the first ancient statues to come to France. Once in France, the statue moved around a lot. At first, she was in the Jardin de la Reine and Fontainebleau. In 1602, Henri IV moved it to the Hall of Antiquities at the Louvre (now the Salle des Caryatides). Louis XIV sent her to Versailles to stand in the Grande Galerie. In 1798, she returned to the Louvre.

5. Etruscan Vase in the Form of a Woman's Head

The craftsmanship is Etruscan, but the form is borrowed from Hellenistic Greek vessels. The vase was probably used to hold ointment used in funeral rituals. It was made in the 3rd century BCE in a workshop in Orvieto, famous for their bronze craftsmanship. Many similar vases have been found near graves in the area. Denon Wing, Room 19.

6. Hera of Samos

Otherwise known as the Kore of Samos, this headless female figure arrived to the Louvre in 1881 and was once part of the temple of Hera on the island of Samos. It was discovered near the temple on the Via Sacra (Sacred Way) in 1875.

The monumental statue of a young girl (kore) wearing a finely-pleated linen tunic and wool cloak & veil is typical of Archaic korai. In case you've forgotten your Ancient Greek history, archaic korai are statues that depict girls and women, always of a young age, made during the Archaic period, 600 to 480 BCE.

There is an engraved inscription along the edge of the veil, describing the statue as an offering to Hera - other works from Samos have similar inscriptions. The young woman once held a key to the temple of Hera in her hand. Located in the Denon Wing, Room 1.


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History – Louvre Greek & Roman Art

Nike of Samothrace

When the Louvre first opened in 1793 there were only two departments — Paintings and Antiquities, that is, Greek, Etruscan, and Roman antiquities. The collections were enriched considerably by artwork seized from the nobility during the French Revolution.

In 1807, when the Louvre purchased 500 marble sculptures from the Borghese collection in Rome, the Salle des Cariatides on the ground floor of the Pavillon du Roi and the queen's winter apartments were refurbished to make space for them. In 1815, Ennio Quirino Visconti, an Italian art historian and the Louvre's first curator of antiquities, added acquisitions, with the Venus de Milo arriving in 1821. Archaeological artifacts arrived from the Tochon collection and in 1827, the Musée Charles X opened on the first floor.

During the 19th-century, the Louvre's acquisitions from North Africa and the Ottoman Empire increased dramatically, the result of a frenzy of archaeological expeditions. The Nike of Samothrace was discovered and was placed on the summit of the Daru staircase in 1884.

In the early 20th century it was time to renovate. In 1934, the museum of sculpture inaugurated by Napoleon was dismantled and a chronological classification established. A section devoted to Greek art was centered on the sculptures in the queen's winter apartments, the Salle de Diane.

After the Louvre pyramid was built in the late 20th century, a new organizational project was launched. The pre-classical Greek gallery opened and a new room under the Winged Victory staircase was devoted to the Temple of Zeus.


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Louvre Greek & Roman Art Resources

The Greek, Etruscan & Roman Antiquities collection is found on the first floor and mezzanine of the Denon wing and also in the Sully wing. One section is dedicated to ancient Greece and the other to Etruscan and Roman antiquities.

Links to the 8 Departments of the Louvre

Egyptian Antiquities Greek & Roman Art
Near Eastern Antiquities Islamic Art
Paintings Sculptures
Decorative Arts Prints & Drawings

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