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HOME : Classical Antiquities : Archive : Roman Marble Sarcophagus of a Child
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Roman Marble Sarcophagus of a Child - X.0032
Origin: Mediterranean
Circa: 3 rd Century AD to 4 th Century AD
Dimensions: 11" (27.9cm) high x 41" (104.1cm) wide
Collection: Classical
Medium: Marble


Additional Information: Sold

Location: United States
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Description
Inside this sarcophagus, a child whose time passed all too soon was once laid to rest by his loving family. Naturally, being able to afford a sarcophagus would have meant that the child would have been come from quite a wealthy family. Even the middle classes could only afford cinerary urns, suggesting that the individual who was once buried inside this work would have been of the offspring of Roman aristocracy. In the center of the relief is a pair of Erotes holding a clipeus (shield) atop two crossed cornucopiae. The Latin inscription on the shield reads “D M NICEPHORO SENIORI FILI,” translated as: “To the gods of the Underworld, to Nicephoros, son of Senioris." On either side of the central group are more Erotes. To the left stands one Erote holding a long staff or torch and another who has a garland. At the right of the sarcophagus, another pair of Erotes supports a helmet atop a column shaft. The imagery suggests a Bacchanal triumph, suggesting that the family might have been active in the cult of Bacchus. The death of a child is always a sad occasion, and we wonder what might have caused this child’s premature demise. An illness? An accident? Clearly, the family of this lost child mourned his memory and felt compelled to commission this beautiful sarcophagus to memorialize his life. The artistry of this work is quite impressive considering that it was created specifically to be buried. More than a mere coffin, this sarcophagus is a monument to a child who was taken away from his family too soon. - (X.0032)

 

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