Depicting the Dead
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The present monograph takes its place in a now well-established tradition of seeing sarcophagi as visual statements of deceased individuals that used allegories to plot lives and personal memories against mythological and other idealised narratives. It focuses on Roman sarcophagi, often referred to as stadtromisch, which reflects the fact that the field has traditionally been dominated by German scholars. The aim of the book is twofold: Firstly, it is an exploration of how to read Roman sarcophagi, which starts from those with portraits, but which can contribute more broadly to the study of sarcophagi in general. Secondly, this book investigates gender values as represented through images and how to locate the individual in standardised iconography.

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Date de parution 28 mars 2013
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EAN13 9788771244168
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stine birk Depicting the Dea D
a arhus s tu D ies in Me D iterranean a ntiquity V olu M e X i
ISBN978-87-7124-018-4 s tine b irk
9 788771240184
Depicting
the DeaD
Self-Representation and Commemoration
on Roman Sarcophagi with Portraits
in second- to fourth-century r ome, sarcophagi were a popular burial
form, and men, women, and children from different strata of society
were laid to rest in marble coffins with lavish relief-decoration. the
visual language of these sarcophagi used mythological narratives,
learned scenes, and playful cupids to construct particular memories
of both families and individuals. standardised sarcophagi could be
individualised through the application of a portrait of the deceased
person to one of the depicted figures. the present book explores
how to read r oman sarcophagi, starting from those adorned with
portraits and placing them within a social context. it investigates
gender values and childhood as reflected in the visual language of
sarcophagus reliefs and shows how standardised iconography could
be used to construct personal and social memory.
a arhus u ni V ersity p ress a
DepictingTheDead_overtræk.indd 1 15/01/13 12.07
In memoriam
Lissi AstrupDepicting the DeadAarhus Studies in
Mediterranean Antiquity
(ASMA)
XI
ASMA is a series which is published approximately once a year by the research
programme Classical Antiquity at Aarhus University, Denmark.
Te programme includes researchers from various disciplines studying
GraecoRoman Antiquity, such as Classical Archaeology, Classical Philology, Ancient
History, the Study of Religion, and Teology.
Te objective of the series is to advance the interdisciplinary study of Antiquity
by publishing articles, e.g., conference papers, or independent monographs,
which among other things refect the current activities of the programme.Depicting the Dead
Self-Representation and Commemoration
on Roman Sarcophagi with Portraits
Stine Birk
Aarhus University Press | Depicting the Dead
© Aarhus University Press and the author, 2013
Cover by Jørgen Sparre
Illustration: Rome, Museo Nazionale Romano, Palazzo Massimo, inv. 126372 (cat. 645)
Typeset with Adobe Garamond by Narayana Press
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ISBN 978 87 7124 416 8
ISSN 1399 2686
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Published with the financial support of
Aarhus University Research Foundation
Elisabeth Munksgaard FondenCONTENTS
7 Acknowledgements
9 INTRODUCTION
Negotiating Identity on Sarcophagi
21 CHAPTER 1
Images for Contemplation
59 CHAPTER 2
Exempla Virtutis: Portraits and Self-Representation on Sarcophagi
115 CHAPTER 3
Visualising Gender
157 CHAPTER 4
Filiae Innocentissimae, Filio Dulcissimo: Commemorating Children
181 Retrospect
185 Bibliography
197 APPENDIX A
Sarcophagi Commemorating Women, Men, Children, and Couples
199 APPENDIX B
Sarcophagi with Blank Portraits
200 APPENDIX C
Learned Figures with Portraits on Sarcophagi
203 CATALOGUE
How to Use the Catalogue
Non-Narrative Scenes with Learned Figuresative Scenes with Figures without Scrolls or Musical Instruments
Clipeus Busts of a Couple
Hunters and Virtus
Reclining Figures
Figures Riding in a Carriage
Mythological Figures
Children’s Life Course
Commanders (battle)
Profession (?)
Rituals (dextrarum iunctio, sacrifice, and prayer)
Addenda
325 Index
| Contents 5CONTENTS INDEX
Acknowledgements
Te present monograph is the outcome of years of fas - for reading both early and later versions of the text,
cination with sarcophagus reliefs. In 2009 I defended Hanne Sigismund Nielsen for discussions of the role
my PhD on third-century Roman sarcophagi at Aarhus of women and for assistance with the inscriptions, and
University, supervised by Dr. Björn Christian Ewald and Lea Stirling, who during her time as a visiting professor
Professor Emeritus Niels Hannestad, and this mono- at Aarhus University was a gr eat inspiration.
Furthergraph refects that work in some aspects. Te ground- more, early versions of chapters were read, critiqued,
work for the catalogue had at that time been completed, and signifcantly improved by my colleague at Aarhus
but it has been revised and substantially expanded in University Birte Poulsen. A special thank you to my
the present version. Te entire corpus of sarcophagi friend and colleague Lone Iversen for help with the
with portrait fgures has been included here, including catalogue and for locating around the world sarcophagi
those from the second and fourth centuries as well as previously unknown to me.
the third. In writing this book a greater focus was put As for the committee of my PhD, I am greatly in -
on the portrait fgure and issues of the commemoration debted to Michael Koortbojian and Janet Huskinson,
and representation of individuals. First and foremost, not least for pointing out both the weaknesses and the
I am grateful to the Carlsberg Foundation for fund - positive aspects of my study and for fruitful discussion
ing my postdoctoral work. It is their fnancial support at the defence. Tey encouraged me to continue work
that has allowed this study to come to completion. I on the material. Special thanks go to Janet Huskinson,
would like to acknowledge the further fnancial support who was always ready to discuss the enigmatic world of
towards the cost of this publication that was provided sarcophagi during her visiting professorship in Aarhus.
by the Aarhus University Research Foundation and the My fnal and most heartfelt thanks are due to a
Elisabeth Munksgaard Foundation. person who has been a rock-solid support throughout
It would have been impossible to write this book the entire process: my husband Troels Myrup Kris -
without the support of colleagues, friends, and institu - tensen. He was my constant inspiration and untiring
tions. In particular, I would like to thank the Danish friend during the many troublesome phases of writing
Institute in Rome, Hoyt Fields at the Hearst Castle, this book, and he read and commented on all parts
California, Daria Lanzuelo at the German Archaelogical of the manuscript. Without him I would never have
Institute in Rome, the Staatliche Museen, Berlin, the fnished it.
Huntington Art Gallery, San Marino, and the Ny I have dedicated this book to my beloved
grandCarlsberg Glyptotek. I am grateful to Katharina Mei- mother, since a book focusing on commemoration and
necke for useful discussions and for sharing results from role models appears to me to be an appropriate
dedicaher own work on sarcophagi with me, Zahra Newby tion to the memory of a woman with admirable virtues.
for reading and commenting on the text, especially She was my own role model.
chapter  1. I am also grateful to Björn Christian Ewald
| Acknowledgements 7
This page is protected by copyright and may not be redistributedCONTENTS INDEX
INTRODUCTION
Negotiating Identity on Sarcophagi
Best of all seems the Roman custom, which publicly renders to women,
as to men, a ftting commemoration after the end of their life.
1Plutarch, On the Bravery of Women
To be remembered after death was important in memory of the person was maintained, and through
Roman society; Roman funerary arts bear witness to the memory the anima of the deceased lived on.
Passthe eforts that were made to ensure that the memory ing into oblivion was the worst possible scenario. As
2of individuals survived. According to Ulpian, monu- such, acts that erased the memory of a person were
3ments (monumenta) were erected to preserve memory. seen as a disgrace, and inscriptions warn or condemn
6In line with this tradition of using monuments to keep those who dared to desecrate or reuse a tomb.
the memory of a specifc event or person alive, funerary Sarcophagi, made for one or at most two individuals,
monuments of various kinds were erected all over the have been preserved in large numbers. Some 15,000 in
4Roman Empire. Many still stand today as expressions total survive from the Roman Imperial period, of which
of the hope for a persisting memory, particularly those it has been estimated that around 6,000 were produced
7made of durable materials, such as brick buildings in the city of Rome. Te production of sarcophagi
5or marble altars, stelae, and sarcophagi. Te Roman
view was that as long as the monument existed, the
6 See Carroll 2006, 79-83; 2011. In one instance from Rome, a
person named Gaius Annidienus Frequens tried to prevent
1 Plutarch, Moralia III, On the Bravery of Women (introduc- his tomb from being defled by passers-by ( ne quis hic urina),
tion), trans. Babbitt; Pantell 1992. CIL VI 3413. Inscriptions that aim to protect the tomb and
2 For the importance of constructing a memory, see Hope keep it within the family are frequent in the Eastern Empire,
1997; 2003; 2011. On Roman funerary culture in general, see especially on sarcophagi from Asia Minor (see, for example,
Andreae 1963; Hesberg & Zanker 1987; Hesberg 1992; Koch Reynolds & Roueché in Işik 2007, cat. 178, 179, and 196).
1993a; Hope 1997a; Bodel 2008. Such inscriptions bear evidence of the importance of the
3 Ulpian, Digest, 11.7.2.6. Tough the word monumentum is tomb in society but also of the fact that despite legislation
sometimes used to denote funerary monuments (Carroll against it, tombs were neglected or reused by later
genera2006, 30; 2011, 66), it most likely also refers to other kinds tions. For phrases threatening any violater of a tomb, see
of monuments such as statues erected to commemorate Meinecke 2010, 100 with further literature in note 74.
something or someone, and to pieces or collections of writ- 7 Koch 1993, 59; Rogge, ASR IX, 1, 1 (1995) 15. Te word
ing (Hope 2007, 71). sarcophagus is of Greek origin: sarx, meaning “fesh”, and
4 It has been estimated that from the period between Augustus phagein, meaning “to eat”. Te stone from which the
sarand Constantine only 1.5 % of all burials from Rome have cophagus was carved was said to contain enough lime to
hasbeen preserved to the present day (Bodel 2008, 179), which ten the decomposition of the body. Pliny in Natural History
says something about how extensive the production must (36.131) writes about sarcophagi as fesh-eaters that consumed
have been. Te idea that the strongest hope for survival was every part of the corpse except the teeth. Pliny is, however,
found in fame, and not in the hope for an afterlife, is also talking about a certain type of stone that is only quarried
expressed in Greek culture, see Nortwick 2008, xiii. in Assos in Asia Minor (Koch & Sichtermann 1982, 23-5).
5 As, for example, evident from the phrasing memoriam perpe­ According to Ward-Perkins the lapis sarcophagus from Assos
tuam on a funerary inscription from Tarragona ( CIL II 4332). has now been located (1992, 55-60).
| Negotiating Identity on Sarcophagi 9
This page is protected by copyright and may not be redistributedCONTENTS INDEX
emerged at approximately the same time in many parts been interpreted as the sarcophagus of the emperor
Balof the Empire, from Turkey in the East through Athens binus and his wife) to a whole variety of social groups
8 13to Rome in the West. Teir popularity was probably to in well-to-do Roman society. In spite of the sometime
some extent a matter of fashion as inhumation gradually mediocer quality, a marble sarcophagus must have been
gained ground in funerary traditions otherwise domi- costly and therefore would not have been available to
9 14nated by cremation burial. In Rome, the frst relief- the lower social classes.
10adorned sarcophagi date to the Trajanic period, but Sarcophagi use a formulaic language in the scenes
they were not produced on a major scale before the that adorn them, and they have often been organised
11 reign of Hadrian. In the third century, a period in into categories according to the type of motif shown.
which sarcophagi were almost mass-produced, the types Apart from the choice of motif, Rome shows two char -
varied from large high-quality sarcophagi to smaller, less acteristics of sarcophagus production that make the
cofambitious works with an iconographic repertoire that fns unique as a source of evidence for exploring social
ranged from elaborate mythological scenes to small im- change. First, it is continuous from the second to the
beages of daily life (so-called vita romana scenes) or simple ginning of the fourth century, whereby the icono graphy
12decorative schemes. Te quality of the production illustrates changes in mentality and the complex
inter15(some mediocre and without full fgural decoration, play between pagan and Christian cultures. Second, it
and others of impressive workmanship) indicates that includes a large number of pieces in which a fgure was
16at this time sarcophagi were available to people from individualised through the application of a portrait.
diferent strata of society. Only with difculty, however, In the other parts of the empire, portraits were rarely
17 can the social status of the patrons be identifed, but in carved on sarcophagus reliefs. Te very earliest of these
all probability they were situated on a spectrum that
ranged from the highest social classes (cat. no. 671 has
13 Huskinson 2002, 12. Ewald suggests that sarcophagi made in
Rome had spread to social strata other than the elite (2004,
8 For the production outside Rome, see, for example, for Asia 234). In his earlier book on philosopher sarcophagi, Ewald
disMinor: Wiegartz 1965; Heinz 2001; Reynolds & Rouché in cusses the social strata of the deceased based on the scarce
eviIşik 2007; Koch 2010. Dalmatia: Cambi 1998. Attic sarcoph- dence provided by inscriptions (1999, 116-17). Te conclusion
agi: Rogge, ASR IX, 1, 1 (1995); Ewald 2004; 2011; Oakley, fnds an inhomogeneous group centred on the higher middle
ASR IX 1, 3 (2011). classes, such as, for example, knights, which in the third
cen9 Te reason for this change in burial fashion is obscure; see tury was a title achieved either through a military career or
Nock 1932; Toynbee 1971, especially 39-42; Brandenburg through birth. Also Denzey makes a good efort to localise and
1978, 324-26; Morris 1992, 31-69; Bodel 2008; Davies 2011. describe the social class of a girl whose undisturbed
sarcopha10 Brandenburg 1978, 327. gus with skeleton and grave goods were unearthed in Rome
11 Froning 1980, 322-23. Koch (1993, 58, 66) is more specifc and opened by Lanciani in 1894. Te girl was probably of a
and estimated the beginning of the major production to be wealthy freeborn family and Denzey uses the term “middle
around 110-120 AD. Te production of prevailingly Christian class” to describe her status (Denzey 2007, 4). See also
Fittsarcophagi continued, evidenced by a few pieces, into the schen 1975, 15-8 and Bielefeld, ASR V 2, 2 (1997) 86-8.
Fittffth century. For the early sarcophagi and their development, schen dismisses the identifcation of the so-called Balbinus
see Junker 2005/6, 164 with further literature. All dates given sarcophagus as that of the emperor (1979).
in this book are AD, unless otherwise stated. 14 On production and costs, see most recently Russell 2011.
12 Tis category was established by C. Robert, the founder of 15 After the middle of the fourth century they were only carved
the corpus Die antiken Sarkophagreliefs (ASR), but it is rather on a minor scale.
problematic. Despite the name, it does not show scenes from 16 Te catalogue of this monograph contains 677 entries, which,
real life and should be read metaphorically, like other catego- despite of years of collecting, is not a complete collection
ries of sarcophagus reliefs. Often non-mythological scenes but a representative corpus of what I would estimate to be
are depicted that imitate situations that could have taken around 90 % of the preserved material. For the catalogue
place in real life, such as people driving in a wagon, hunts, and its premises, see p. 203.
or marriage scenes. For a re-evaluation of the categorisation 17 Tere are examples of sarcophagi with portraits from other
of mythological images in opposition to genre images, see places as, for example, those found in the production from
Giuliani 2003. Aphrodisias, cf. Işik 2007, cat. 6, 101, 103-107, 109-111, 113,
|10 Depicting the Dead
This page is protected by copyright and may not be redistributedCONTENTS INDEX
Child sarcophagus (cat. no. 621). Rome, Museo Nazionale Romano, inv. 65199. Photo: Author, courtesy of Soprintendenza Spe- Fig. 1
ciale per i Beni Archeologici di Roma.
individualised sarcophagi, as far as I know, is a sarcoph- liefs in 1890, and since then changing approaches have
agus showing parents and a child driving wagons dated been applied to the material, varying from stylistic
analy18around 100 (Fig. 1; cat. no. 621). Tis is an example sis and chronology to studies of identity constructions
19of the so-called interacting type, in which the portrait and personal commemoration. Crudely, it can be stated
fgures act in the scene. Another type which was to be- that chronological issues and the problem of identify -
come very popular is the sarcophagus with a bust por- ing myths dominated scholarly discussions of sarcophagi
20trait, the frst example of which is dated to the Trajanic into the 1980s. However, religion and afterlife beliefs
period (cat. no. 257). It shows a bust of a boy carried by symbolised through sarcophagus images and not least
cupids and fanked on each side by a grifn and another the symbolic value of the image were prominent topics
cupid. Te fashion of applying a portrait to the relief of discussion since 1942, when F. Cumont presented his
decoration did not become widespread befor e the third Recherches sur le symbolisme funéraire des Romains and
21century. Te continuous production and the fashion for D. Nock reviewed this important work. Gradually, an
portraits, together with the quantity in which they are social historical approach gained ground in the
studpreserved, make sarcophagi a valuable source of histori- ies of sarcophagi with contributions such as P. Blome’s
cal and cultural inquiry, and indeed complementary to Zur Umgestaltung griechischer Mythen in der römischen
the testimony of the literary sources of the period. Sepulkralkunst (1978) and Funerärsymbolische Collagen
Sarcophagus reliefs have been intensively studied since auf mythologischen Sarkophagreliefs (1992), K. Fittschen’s
C. Robert founded the corpus Die antiken Sarkophagre­ article on how to interpret Greek myths on Roman
sar117, 119, 120, 121a, 130, 133, 135, 137, 139, 171, 177-180, and 182. 19 For a review of the earlier scholarship, see the section on
Also Koch & Sichtermann 1982 mention more sarcophagi chronology below.
made outside of Rome often as an imitation of the Roman 20 See, for example, Bovini 1949; Himmelmann-Wildschütz
production: cf. 312, fgs. 337-38, 340-42 (North Africa), 317, 1974; Andreae 1984. Te approach continues to be refected
fgs. 350-51 (Dalmatia), and the more characteristic sar- in the series Sarkophag­Studien, edited by G. Koch (see, for
cophagi with what could be termed family galleries from example, Amedick & Koch 1998 and Kirchhainer & Koch
Macedonia, cf. 347, 352, fgs. 374-75, just to mention a few 2002). For a review of the approach to sarcophagi, see Birk
examples. 2010/11.
18 Amedick, ASR I 4 (1991) cat. 190 21 Nock 1946.
| Negotiating Identity on Sarcophagi 11
This page is protected by copyright and may not be redistributedCONTENTS INDEX
cophagi (1992), F. Müller’s monograph on the so-called well as their emotions at times of bereavement and in
Peleus and Tetis sarcophagus in Villa Albani (1994), confronting death. An increased focus on the self and
D. Grassinger on the meaning of myths on sarcophagi an awareness of the value of remembrance means that
(1994), and fnally M. Koortbojian’s Myth, Meaning and sarcophagi were generally made as personal monuments,
Memory on Roman sarcophagi (1995). In the latter mono- an aspect of Roman funerary culture that is revelatory of
graph, it was ascertained that sarcophagus imagery should the importance of individuals, as they negotiated their
23not be interpreted in one way only, as a static visual roles and identities in life and death. In the
discusexpression of a specifc idea. Instead, it is convincingly sion of ideals and self-understanding among Roman
argued that they were meaningful on multiple levels. citizens, learnedness and the concept of paideia has
24 Te present monograph takes its place in this now been brought to the fore. In chapter 2, I will explore
well-established tradition of seeing sarcophagi as visual this topic further through an assessment og the learned
statements of deceased individuals that used allegories fgure, together with a discussion of the individualised
to plot lives and personal memories against mytho- mythological fgure and fgures performing rituals.
22logical and other idealised narratives. It focuses on Although sarcophagi were made for private
comthe portrait fgure of relief-adorned marble sarcophagi memoration, they possessed an aspect of
self-repmade in or in the near vicinity of Rome in the imperial resentation that was directed outwards. Te book is
period. Tis group is often referred to as stadtrömisch, therefore also concerned with the problem of how to
which refects the fact that the feld has traditionally understand the relationship between the private and
been dominated by German scholars. the social aspects of sarcophagus images. As such, I take
Te aim of this book is twofold: Firstly, it is an ex - one sarcophagus to be a manifestation of an individual
ploration of how to read Roman sarcophagi, which or singular unity such as a marital couple, whereas a
starts from those with portraits, but which can con- larger sample of sarcophagi refects the norms and
virtribute more broadly to the study of sarcophagi in tues that are prevalent in society. Te combination of
general. Scholars familiar with the main issues of the micro level (one individual sarcophagus) with the
reading sarcophagi can skip chapter 1’s introduction macro level (a larger sample of sarcophagi) allows us
to self-representation and the funerary context since to construct a narrative that includes personal as well
it deals with the some of the basic premises for work- as social history. It is, unfortunately, mostly impossible
ing with sarcophagi. Secondly, this book investigates for us to address personal aspects or experiences such
gender values as represented through images and how as profession or eth nicity, but we can discuss what the
to locate the individual in standardised iconography. portrait fgure expresses in terms of values, ideals, and
Chapter 2, therefore, takes as its point of departure morals. Chapter 3 is concerned with this aspect, mostly
some of the main themes represented on sarcophagi and from the perspective of gender. Here it will be
emphaofers a sociological analysis of them. Te importance
of social status has played a seminal role in the way the
sarcophagi have been interpreted. However, it will be
23 Ewald plausibly sees the sarcophagi as a mechanism that
“beargued that what they express about self-representation,
comes a redemption for death and decay, and a principal
is much more than a statement of status. Tey give means in the fght against the threat of oblivion.” (2011, 261).
us insights into the formation of an elite culture that Furthermore, he explains the emergence of sarcophagi during
expressed itself through new burial forms and are in - the second century as a consequence of discourses about the
self (2011, 261-63). Ewald is in this article mostly concerned formative about the social experiences of individuals as
with the iconography of Attic sarcophagi, but refers in his
general discussion to the “male urban elite of the empire”. In the
22 Just to mention some of the most important works to which context of studying the use of funerary monuments to
negoI will return during my discussions: Blome 1978; 1992; Fitt- tiate the identity of the deceased, V. Hope’s works on Roman
schen 1975a; 1979; 1984; 1992a; Giuliani 1989; Ewald 1998; funerary art are also important: Hope 1997; 1998; 2000; 2003.
1999; 2003; 2004; 2005; Zanker 1999; 2000; 2005; Wrede 24 See, for example, Ewald 1998; 1998a; 1999 (reviewed by
2001; Zanker & Ewald 2004; Bielfeldt 2005a; Elsner & D’Ambra 2001; Kranz 2001; Raeck 2002; Trimble 2002;
Huskinson 2011. Balty 2005); 1999a; 1999b; 2003; 2004; 2005; 2011.
|12 Depicting the Dead
This page is protected by copyright and may not be redistributedCONTENTS INDEX
sised how the idealised portraits of men and women
conformed to societal norms, and how scenes did not
present the world as it was: in the choice of motifs used
to represent the deceased, some virtues were accentuated
and others were left out. It will be argued, building on
important scholarship on sarcophagi by authors such as
Koortbojian and P. Zanker, that individualised fgures
on sarcophagi function as analogies to roles, values,
and ideals that were generally accepted in society, and
that they allow us to understand the desired virtues and
25qualities of the deceased. Tough the fgure types were
mostly represented in realistic roles, there are some roles
that did conform to the ideal of a living role model
and which therefore could only be taken on ico no- Strigillated sarcophagus with a portrait of a woman and a Fig. 2
graphically, such as, for example, the naked woman so man (cat. no. 430). Cefalù, S Chiesa di S. Francesco. Photo:
26frequently seen in mythological scenes. Paul Hammann.
As studies of identity and gender have multiplied in
the last decade, so have studies of funerary art in a social
context. In the repercussions of this, the social signif- ing a man who cultivates his land with an ox-drawn
28cance of sarcophagi has increasingly come into focus, and plough. More recently, however, several scholars have
questions of the relationships between iconography, age, emphasised the difculty of approaching individual lives
gender, and identity construction have been given par- through sarcophagus reliefs and argued that images of
ticular attention (here especially in chapters 3 and 4). One everyday life are expressions of societal values and expec -
29scholar who has contributed substantially to this feld is tations, similar to the function of mythological scenes.
J. Huskinson, who sees sarcophagi as both mediating Terefore, sarcophagus reliefs tend to say more about
certain aspects of human life, and refecting diferent roles the society in which they were produced than about the
27through which people could negotiate their identity. lives of the men, women, and children they depict. Seen
Te relationship between actual lived experiences in this light, the reliefs allow us to analyse the M enta li­
and the image represented on sarcophagi has been ex- täts geschichte of a stratum of Roman society in a specifc
plored in several studies. In some earlier scholarship period, since the idealised method of self-representation
scenes imitating everyday life situations were interpreted refects the value systems and cultural standards of the
30as symbolising the profession of the deceased, as for period in which the reliefs were produced.
example, a bucolic scene on cat. no. 430(Fig. 2) show- Te reading of sarcophagus images should take the
expectations of the viewer as its starting point, and look
at how the images function in relation to acts of
com31memoration. Still, even the Romans did not believe
25 Te idea of analogies in sarcophagus imagery was
develthat memory was simply stored in material objects. oped by Koortbojian (1995), who discusses the importance
Memory and remembrance are rather less stable enti-of analogies on sarcophagi and the complexity implied in the
relationship between the imagery and the dead (see especially
pp. 1-9; reviewed by Elsner 1996); Zanker in Zanker & Ewald
2004. 28 Tusa 1995 [1957], 27-8. Also Whitehead (1984) approached the
26 Olson writes that “female nudity or undress was associated profession of the deceased through sarcophagus images, but
with prostitution and sexual license; the lowest women were as already Marrou (1938, 197-207) and later Ewald (1999, 111)
those whose display of their bodies marked them as sexually acknowledge iconography on sarcophagi seldom addresses
available” (2008, 95). profession.
27 Huskinson 1993; 1996, especially 104 (reviewed by Ghilardi 29 Huskinson 2002, 11-2; Bielefelt 2005a and latest Lorenz 2011.
1996; Koch 1997; Bartman 1999; Koortbojian 1999; Ewald 30 Ewald 2004, 230.
1999c) 1999; 2002, particularly 29; 2005; 2007; 2007a; 2008. 31 Zanker 1999; 2000; Huskinson 2002, 21-2.
| Negotiating Identity on Sarcophagi 13
This page is protected by copyright and may not be redistributedCONTENTS INDEX
ties evoked by, for example, social practice, rituals, and images also holds lessons for the study of both the ear -
32customs. In recent years agency theory, with a focus on lier and later production.
the individual, has infuenced the way funerary culture
is studied and the wishes, actions, and demands of indi- Portraits on Sarcophagi
viduals have gained more importance in the social anal- A characteristic feature of the production undertaken
33ysis of sarcophagi. Te approach taken here oscillates in Rome is, as previously mentioned, the great number
between the traditional approach that assumes funerary of sarcophagi on which one or more of the fgures were
culture can be indicative, though not a direct refection, individualised through the application of a portrait.
of the norms and values of the society in which they Tis means that a variety of idealised and
mythologiwere produced, and the acknowledgement of the agency cal fgures were given an individual value by means of
36of the individual. Te sarcophagus is therefore seen as a portrait features. In the context of using sarcophagus
monument that creates a space for acts of mourning, as images as expressions of identity, the portrait added an
it is a means of self-representation. Te viewer-centric extra dimension to this mode of self-representation, an
approach to the visual decoration of sarcophagi refects idea evolved and unravelled by several leading
schola wish to understand them beyond their expressions of ars and most recently by Zanker, B. C. Ewald, and Z.
37social status. A consequence is that sarcophagus images Newby. By combining a portrait with the body of an
become multi-layered, meaning that they were able to ideal fgure, the virtues and qualities of that fgure were
fulfl the diverse needs of people by ofering interpreta- transferred to the identity of the deceased.
tions that could be adapted according to the individual Te use of portraits on sarcophagi should be
un34visiting the tomb. Tis fexibility in the reading of derstood as a continuation of the Roman tradition of
scenes is one of the great advantages of sarcophagi, and using portraits to represent individuals in diverse social
it may help to explain why they became such a popular contexts. Portraits could be used for public and
politimedium for post­mortem self-representation. On the cal purposes, in sanctuaries, to show patronage, or in
other hand, there may have been a limit to this degree of honorifc contexts which include tombs. Whereas the
readability and a general consensus as to what qualities public display focused on status and career, the private
specifc images conveyed; a total fuidity in the mean- use is about defning oneself in relation to the family
ing of the scenes would have obstructed the possibility and to preserve memory. Carving portrait on funerary
of constructing an ideal identity, which was after all monuments in Rome was a continuing phenomenon
38one of the main purposes in erecting a commemorative from the frst century BC into the fourth century.
monument. Te use of portraits in the funerary sphere were not
When discussing these issues, the third century will limited to sarcophagi; funerary altars, marble couches
often stand as a focal point of reference, since in this pe - with reclining fgures, statues, urns, and reliefs could
riod one may speak of a ‘ portrait boom’ on sarcophagi. all include depictions of the person they were meant to
Te portrait fgure helps us to read the images, since
it focuses the viewer’s attention on a particular fgure
35or episode. Te fgure makes it explicit which virtues
36 For this phenomenon within Roman mythological sculpture
and qualities the patron wanted to be remembered for. in general, see Wrede 1981.
Many of these constructions of personal identity and 37 Zanker & Ewald 2004, especially 179, 185-88; Newby 2011.
social ideals are particularly clear in the third century, Furthermore the issue is briefy summarised in Stewart 2008,
70-6. For earlier studies of the same tradition some of the but the methodology involved in reading sarcophagus
most important contributions are Brandenburg 1967;
Fittschen 1970a; 1979; Schauenburg 1980; Wrede 1981, though he
is not only concerned with sarcophagi; Koch & Sichtermann
32 Robinson 2010, especially 92. 1982, 607-14. See also chapter 1.
33 For example, Dobres & Robb 2000. 38 Stewart 2003, 92. Te role of ancestor masks is likely to be
34 An approach, for example, taken by Zanker & Ewald 2004 rather small in second- and third-century funerary culture
(reviewed by Hallett 2005; Huskinson 2005a). (Stewart 2003, 83). On ancestors masks, see Flower 1996
35 Newby 2011, 224. (reviewed by Saller 1998).
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Detail of clipeus sarcophagus with two flying cupids. Eros and Psyche are shown on the short ends, and Tellus and Oceanus are Fig. 3
depicted beneath the cupids (cat. no. 68). Copenhagen, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, inv. 1890. Photo: Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek.
39commemorate. While altars, statues, and reliefs with Such a symbolic representation of the person seems to
portraits were also produced in the previous centuries, have been sufcient to individualise the portrait fgure
the third century is characterised by the new fashion in order to preserve the memory of a person. When
of having a sarcophagus with a portrait. portraits use standard expressions, more infuenced by
In contrast to the modern portrait, Roman por- the style of the period in which they were carved (the
trait seldom express emotions, moods, or psychologi- period face) than by the personality of the portrait
subcal states. Rather than being an actual likeness, they ject, they cannot be read in order to understand the
were self-representational statements of the deceased personalities of those they represent. Instead identity
that symbolise the person in order to preserve his or markers such as age and sex can be recognised, and a
her memory. Tat the portrait symbolises the deceased, fairly large number of portraits on sarcophagi shows
41instead of imitating his or her facial features, means signs of age. However, more specifc determination
40that it becomes ‘an image of a portrait’. Te fact that of age is difcult, except for in those cases where it
sarcophagus portraits were not true likenesses of in- is mentioned in the inscription, because the portraits
dividual people, intended to express the inner self of are idealised and thus used the appearance of the face,
that person, means that we fnd sarcophagi that have including signs of age, to negotiate an ideal identity.
been reused without alteration of the portrait features. Te repertory of idealised and allegorical fgures that
could be carved on sarcophagi is extensive but, as we
will see, only a small proportion of them were used by
the deceased for self-representation through the applica-39 For kline-monuments see Wrede 1977, 395-431. For funerary
altars, see Boschung 1987; Kleiner 1987. For the signifcance of tion of a portrait. Portraits can be distinguished from
the portrait on diverse types of Roman monuments, including idealised heads by the time-specifc hairstyle, expressions
funerary sculpture, see Stewart 2003, 83-90. For the diferent of realism ( Fig. 3; cat. no. 68), and by non-idealised
fauses of portraits in Roman statuary and reliefs, see Fejfer 2008. cial features approaching the style of the current period
40 On the discussion of the portrait as an expression of an ideal
face (Fig. 4; detail of cat. no. 641). Furthermore, traces
or a likeness, see Massner 1982, 1-5 with further references;
Huskinson 1998, 130-34. However, some believe that Roman
portraits by their very nature seek to convey information
about the personality of a human being, Wood 1986, ix. 41 Examples are cat. nos. 7, 71, 130, 142, 364, and 430 .
| Negotiating Identity on Sarcophagi 15
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ible traces of tool marks, and the skin of idealised fgures
is as a general rule polished or at least smooth. Leaving
tool marks on the portrait adds an additional dimension
to the lifelike appearance of the face and emphasises
the fact that what we are looking at is the image of
an individual person. It was necessary to distinguish
portraits from generic heads, because the idealised body
type used for self-representation did not make such a
diferentiation in itself. Te same body types could be
used for generic heads and for portraits.
Portraits on sarcophagi appear most commonly on
a bust carved on the lid or in a clipeus on the frontal
relief supported by garlands, seasonal personifcations,
42cupids, or victoriae. Another popular place is on a
fulllength fgure. Sometimes these fgures are interacting in
Fig. 4 Detail of the man in the marriage scene on the right end a narrative scene, a design with one continuous scene
of the so-called Brother sarcophagus (cat. no. 641). Naples, covering the full length of the relief. At other times the
Museo Nazionale, inv. 6603. Photo: Author, courtesy of the fgure appears on non-narrative types of sarcophagi,
Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Napoli e defned by the fact that the portrait fgure, instead of
Pompei. interacting with the other fgures, is framed by, for ex -
ample, columns (dividing the frontal relief into several
sections) or an imitation of a parapetasma, or it is carved
43of tool marks can often be observed on the surface of on panels on strigillated sarcophagi. In rare instances
a portrait, which give it a more rough expression than portrait fgures are found on the end reliefs (cat. no.
the faces of idealised fgures ( Fig. 5; cat. no. 645). Apart 114) and small portrait fgures can be found in places
44from the portraits, sarcophagus reliefs rarely show vis- such as in a mandorla on strigillated sarcophagi.
Determining the sex of a portrait fgure can
some42 I use the term clipeus for all the circular frames that enclose
one or more busts.
43 ‘Strigillated’ refers to the ornamentation on the two panels
on the front of that sarcophagus (for the term, see Baratta
2007, 192, note 1). Tese sarcophagi are adorned with curved
profles with rounded ends that run from top to bottom of
the relief. Tis type of decoration started in the late second
and continued into the fourth century. Tese sarcophagi
have not had a volume dedicated to them in the corpus
ASR, and is rarely studied together as a group. A study of
this group, however, will be published in a forthcoming book
by J. Huskinson.
44 Examples are: a strigillated sarcophagus from Musei Vaticani,
Cortile del Belvedere, inv. 111 with a learned fgure with a
blank portrait in a mandorla (Addendum A1), a similar piece
in S. Paolo a Ripa, Pisa with a couple with blank portraits
Fig. 5 Detail of the boy on the left end of the so-called Acilia
sarin a mandorla (cat. no. 662), and another strigillated
sarcophagus (cat. no. 645). Rome, Museo Nazionale Romano, cophagus in Cliveden with a lion-deer group at each end
Palazzo Massimo, inv. 126372. Photo: Author, courtesy of So- and a learned woman with a portrait in the mandorla (cat.
printendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Roma. no. 135).
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times be difcult. Because of the size of such fgures, hair as female, whereas the blank portraits with a short
the facial features are not always carved in detail, and hairstyle have been categorised as male. Te full-length
sometimes the state of preservation makes the face dif - fgures are easier to categorise as either male or female
fcult to read. However, the hairstyle often reveals the than a bust. Te long dress is considered female (often
sex, and through this feature sex determination be- a chiton and a palla), whereas the short dress is male
comes reliable. We assume that with sculptures in the (often a tunic and a pallium or a toga), and the naked
round, the hairstyle of sarcophagus portraits follows or semi-naked mythological fgures often provide the
the fashion of the period set by the imperial family. answer immediately by the exposed genitals.
On sarcophagi it often occurs that the head was left
blank, which means that it remained roughly carved and Chronology
never received portrait features. In such cases it is more Portraits on sarcophagi are used to establish a
developproblematic to decide if a sarcophagus was carved for ment of style and chronology, given that they represent
a man or a woman, since the blank portraits also have a better tool for dating than the motivgeschichtliche
ap45a roughly carved hairstyle. Based on the appearance of proach. Tere are problems involved in this
meththis rved hairstyle, it can be conjectured that odology, however, and a few historiographical remarks
if a portrait were prepared for a woman, it would have are necessary here in order to underline some of the
hair that continued to a point below the ears; if for a premises for the present study.
man, it would have a short hairstyle. It is, however, not G. Rodenwaldt was almost a founding father of the
always that simple, because the bound hair of female scientifc study of sarcophagi. His 1936 article “Zur
fgures sometimes meant that the roughly carved hair Kunstgeschichte der Jahre 220 bis 270” became
semi46did not protrude below the ears. On the lid of cat. nal to all subsequent works in this feld of study.
Rono. 50 is a bust with a blank portrait (Fig. 90). Te denwaldt suggested a chronological sequence for some
unfnished portrait bust has a short hairstyle, but the of the most famous sarcophagi, taking the Mattei I
inscription mentions a girl’s name. In such cases, I trust lion hunt sarcophagus as his point of reference ( Fig.
the inscription more than the roughly carved hairstyle. 59; cat. no. 508). Tis sarcophagus has played an
imAfter all, the sarcophagus was in the end used for a girl. portant role in the following discussion on
sarcophaTe fact that also a roughly carved head prepared for gus chronology, starting when B. Andreae suggested a
a man could be re-carved with a portrait of a woman, new stylistic development that deviated from
Roden47and vice versa (see, for example, Fig. 77; cat. no. 246), waldt’s. Among other things, for example, he altered
makes such sex determination difcult. Tis means that
it is not always easy to know from the roughly carved
45 Koch 1993, 49. For a discussion on the potential of the por -fgure if the iconography of the sarcophagus was meant
trait for dating a sarcophagus and the implications of later to commemorate a man or a woman. But then we can
periods’ engagement with sarcophagi, see Birk 2010/11.bring the appearance of the bust into discussion: though
46 Other important works by Rodenwaldt on sarcophagi are: busts could be carved fairly generically with no special
1935; 1943; 1944. F. Matz (1958) continues this approach in
indication of either sex, a bust in combination with a
his discussion on the Badminton sarcophagus. See also the
blank portrait can often be used to establish the sex of monograph of Hanfmann (1951) on the seasonal
sarcophaa fgure. gus from Dumbarton Oaks, Himmelmann-Wildschütz 1973;
From a workshop perspective, the generic bust 1974, and Fittschen 1969, 1970; 1971; 1972 (an important
review of Wegner’s contribution to the ASR corpus Die Mu­meant that the sarcophagus could be purchased for
sensarkophage from 1966 in which the chronology of many either a man or a woman. Tis ‘asexual’ appearance
sarcophagi is reassessed); 1973; 1975; 1979; 1984.of the bust should be considered in a discussion about
47 Andreae 1968-69; 1969; 1970; 1971; 1977; ASR I 2 (1980); 1981 gender in Roman society, because it means that similar
in which he summarises works published on sarcophagi until
iconographic schemata could be used for both men
that date); 1985; Andreae & Jung 1977. Fittschen (1972) took
and women. I will return to this issue in the following part in adjustments to the former chronological framework
chapters. If nothing directly suggests the contrary, I in a very important review article of Wegner’s, ASR V 3
have categorised the heads with roughly carved long (1966). In this article he writes that Andreae’s reassessment
| Negotiating Identity on Sarcophagi 17
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51the dating proposed by Rodenwaldt for the Mattei I for the facades of Roman palaces. A consequence of
sarcophagus from about 220 to 270-280 on the basis of especially the decorative use on palazzo facades is an
stylistic analysis of the fgures and the composition of often extensive restoration of the reliefs, which alters
48the iconographic scheme. As the Mattei I sarcophagus the appearance of the fgures to the extent that it
behad been fundamental to the chronology established by comes difcult to use them for stylistic evaluation and
Rodenwaldt, a new chronology had to be established. hence chronology, such a case being the Mattei I relief.
Tis was accomplished by Andreae in his contribution Te monumentality of many sarcophagi, together with
49to Die antike Sarkophagreliefs (ASR) published in 1980. previous periods’ appreciation of the reliefs, has further -
However, this chronology is difcult to use, since the more led scholars to perceive them as glamorous
monudating criteria used for establishing both the chronology ments and objects of art. Tis approach is expressed
50and the stylistic development was never fully defned. through frequently used terms such as Prunksarkophage
Another signifcant feature that afects the under- and Gallienic Renaissance, terms that have led high
standing of sarcophagi is the several hundreds of years quality sarcophagi to be grouped together in a relatively
of admiration of their fgural decoration. Tis fasci - short period of time often with the consequence that
nation with sarcophagus reliefs has had its impact on probably too many sarcophagi are dated to the same
52their appearance as they are preserved today and many period, around the middle of the third century.
frontal reliefs have been separated from the cofn, with In spite of these difculties, studies of style have
promajor implications for the study of their chronology. vided the basis for understanding sarcophagus
chronolSince medieval times sarcophagi have been reused both ogy to the extent that it is possible to go a step further
for burials and as decorative elements, and during the and situate sarcophagi within the context of social values,
late Renaissance and Baroque periods the cofns were self-display, and idealisation. In line with the general
tenused as fountains and planters, as well as decoration dency in recent scholarship on sarcophagi, this book will
be less concerned with tracing stylistic developments and
the refnement of sarcophagus chronologies, given that
most sarcophagi are datable within a relatively narrow
time range. Even though the chronology of sarcophagi
of the Mattei I sarcophagus is a precaution for understanding should be the subject of further refection and discussion,
the stylistic development of the third century (frst presented
I believe that the overall chronology that has been
estabin Andreae 1968-69). Fittschen furthermore argues that the
lished for sarcophagi will not be changed dramatically Mattei I sarcophagus cannot be dated to the 220s because
by re-dating individual pieces. We must therefore accept the state commissioned art from this period did not show
a dating within a time span, and for the purpose of the any evidence of a classicistic style, as found on the Mattei I
sarcophagus (Fittschen 1972, 503, note 1). Tis argument is statistics presented here, I have chosen an interval of 25
a classic example of how stylistic development as a method years based on the dates given in primarily the corpus
sometimes forces an infexible linear development upon the Die antike Sarkophagreliefs , as well as other primary
pubmaterial. Fittschen later confrmed this stylistic development lications. Because of the difculties involved in
workagain (1975, 12).
ing with stylistic development in the third century and
48 Andreae 1970, 88. Te Mattei I relief is, however, a badly
thus of giving precise dates, the iconography studied here chosen building block for chronology, since the portrait is
probably the only non-restored surface of the relief. Te
stylistic features of the relief are therefore problematic as
illustrations of the style of the period. For more on this 51 Andreae & Settis 1983; Zanker & Ewald 2004, 9-24. For
discussion, see Birk 2010/11. post-antique periods’ interest in sarcophagi, see Guerrini
49 Te re-dating of the Mattei I sarcophagus was repeated in 1982; Greenhalgh 1989, 183-201; Barkan 1999, 32, 60-1, 126;
an article published in 1969 (Andreae 1968-69). Danesi & Gambardella 2008.
50 As A. M. McCann has observed, referring to both Andreae 52 For the concept of the so-called Prunksarkophage, see Andreae
and Fittschen, “their arguments are based largely upon sty- & Jung 1977. For the Gallienic Renaissance, see
Rodenlistic comparisons with other sarcophagi, which do not to waldt 1931, 319; Alföldi 1967, 263-81; Rössler 1997. Further
appear to me to be fully convincing” (1978, 103, note 29). discussion on the term and its impact on the handling of
For Fittschen, see above n. 46. sarcophagi can be found in Birk 2010/11.
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will not be based on the chronological developments of that for some periods may seem ‘old-fashioned’ could still
motifs. Tis seems reasonable since, despite general ten- be produced in order to accommodate special needs. Te
dencies showing that some motifs were more popular Great Ludovisi battle sarcophagus (cat. no. 625) is an
exin some periods than others, the possibility of choosing ample of such conservatism, and it should make us aware
a motif according to the values implied in it was much that many other such cases are likely to be found among
53more expansive than is often assumed. Terefore motifs the corpus of sarcophagi.
53 Most recently studied by Künzl (2010).
| Negotiating Identity on Sarcophagi 19
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CHAPTER 1
Images for Contemplation
Soon you are made anew into various semblances: here shines Ceres in bronze,
here the Cnosian maid, in that clay is Maia, Venus (no wanton) in this stone.
Te deities accept your beauteous features without complaint.
Servants stand around accustomed to obey.
1Statius, Silvae V. I 231-35
Te Romans were well aware of the possibility of ne - Priscilla’s person was multi-faceted and possessed virtues
gotiating their identities through images and portraits, that answered to those of the diferent goddesses. What
55and this extended to post­mortem contexts. Tis visual we see is a tribute to the ideals of a frst-century Roman
negotiation was a language that appealed to people from wife: prosperity and motherly relationships (Ceres), the
various social groups of Roman society, and besides quality of the chaste maid Diana or the beautiful
Aribeing a strong communicative factor in public and pri- adne (the maid of Knossos) combined with the virtues
vate monuments, it is used metaphorically in written of piety and beauty (Maia), and fnally love and the fe -
texts. Such a description is found in a poem by the male virtue of modesty and chastity (the not immodest
57frst-century poet Publius Papinius Statius (see above). Venus). In summa, by applying Priscilla’s portrait to
He describes a woman who has been represented in statues of the diferent goddesses and heroines, Statius
diverse forms on her tomb by her husband. Tese dif- transfers the virtues of these mythological fgures to
ferent representations are approved by the gods, and the personality of the deceased woman. Her identity
thus the woman is introduced into the divine sphere was, by these means, negotiated post­mortem. It must
through her portraits. Te text is fction and the woman be remembered, however, that we learn about Priscilla
fctive, but what is of interest here is the description of through the way her husband commemorated her, and
a visual language used to construct an ideal memory. that the statues were selected because they ftted the
ideSelf-representation through the shapes of goddesses can als of current society and thus also accommodated the
be interpreted in the context of apotheosis, but it is husband’s claim to status. For, as we will see, to show
more likely to be read as a metaphorical construction oneself as the patron of tombs and sarcophagi was just
56of a person’s virtues. Te diverse forms of the wife’s as important as commemorating the deceased.
portraiture all represent diferent aspects of her iden- Te design of a sarcophagus and its often rich fgura -
tity. By mentioning several deities, Statius implies that tive decoration constitute a signifcant source for
studying virtues and ideals within a relatively broad group of
Roman upper-class society. Teir fgurative decoration
54 Mox in uarias mutate nouaris efgies: hoc aere Ceres, hoc lucida conveys information about individuals in a time- and
Cnosis, illo Maia tholo, Venus hoc non improba saxo. Accipiunt
vulyus haud indignata decoros Numina: circumstant famuli
consuetaque turba obesequii. Trans. Shackleton Bailey 2003. 57 For commentary on the text, see Gibson 2006, 162-65. Tere
55 See, for example, Flower 1996; Stewart 2003, 79; Fejfer 2008, is some discussion as to whether the “Cnosian maid” is Diana
105-37. or Ariadne; see Gibson 2006, 163. Shackleton Bailey suggests
56 I am grateful to Zahra Newby for discussion about the mean - that she is Ariadne; see Shackleton Bailey, Statius, Silvae V,
ing of the text. On apotheosis, see Cumont 1942; Engemann 1, note 23. Wrede (1981, 75-7) compares the description of
1973; Wrede 1981. Priscilla’s portrayals with surviving examples of sculpture.
| Images for Contemplation 21
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place-specifc context, and is indicative of how people becomes a medium for refection and contemplation,
wanted to present themselves or their relatives for the using mythological narratives and scenes of ideal
lifefuture. Trough the representations of women, men, situations to symbolise human situations and feelings.
and children as they appear on sarcophagi, it is possible Tis “double identity” of the sarcophagus, and especially
to approach a wide variety of questions concerning so- its portrait fgures, means that both individuality and
58cial relations and gender roles. In this study sarcophagi the social persona can be studied through its
decora61with portrait fgures have been chosen as the primary tion. In this chapter, I will explore sarcophagi as
comsource, because they possess great potential as building memorative monuments set up as acts of bereavement
blocks in constructing a framework within which sar- and self-display. I will explain the key concepts of my
cophagus reliefs in general may be interpreted, i.e. those approach to self-representation, which is situated in a
without portraits as well. Teir potential lies in the fact well-established scholarly tradition of reading
sarcophthat the portrait fgure helps the viewer to focus on read- agi as expressions of social identity and symbolic
mean62ing the scene, guiding the viewer to an interpretation ings. In order to do this, I will look at three external
that is as close as we may get to the patron’s intended factors that impact the appearance of the decoration:
59meaning. Te body type chosen for the portrait fgure the production, the funerary context of viewing, and
presents an allegory of diferent social categories and the Roman concepts of the afterlife.
societal ideals, and together with portraits and
inscriptions informing us of the sex and age of the deceased, we
Patronage, Production, and the Funerary Context
get an idea about what the person buried in the cofn
60was like. Tus taking the portrait fgure as the starting Before we go into detail about how sarcophagus
impoint of an interpretation provides us with some basic ages can be interpreted in a funerary context, it will be
information about the commemorated person. helpful to consider some external circumstances, namely
Sarcophagus reliefs can be compared with the de- the questions of who were buried in sarcophagi, who
scription of Priscilla’s tomb. On the oblong front the bought them (and thereby approved of the decoration),
deceased is shown in one or more variations of ideal and fnally, for whom they were visible. Te two frst
fgures, acting through an iconographic language that questions concern the identities we are talking about,
emphasises his or her virtues. In this respect, the cofn whereas the last one approaches the meaning of
saris an honorary monument that, like the tomb, displayed cophagus images.
the status of the family. It is a place of simultaneous
commemoration and veneration of the dead; the cofn The Dead and the Patron
Te portraits on sarcophagi are not exclusively of
deceased people. Often the patron is portrayed along with
58 For role models and self-representation on Roman sarcophagi the departed person. Patronage of funerary monuments
as expressions of values both in relation to society and the was a way of positioning oneself in relation both to
family, see, for example, Zanker & Ewald 2004, 179-201. the dead and to surrounding society, i.e. the visitors
59 On theories of viewing, see Sharrock 2002; Clarke 2002,
to the tombs.
2003; Elsner 1995. Clarke (2002) distinguishes between male
Te patron is here defned as the person who com-and female viewers. I think that it can be difcult to difer -
missioned the sarcophagus; he or she decided what entiate the approach taken by the diferent viewers according
motif was appropriate for commemorating the person to categories of sex, class, age, and status. More important is
the notion of personal experiences and personhood, which who was to be buried in the sarcophagus. Te patron
of course in return depends upon the previously mentioned
categories. Terefore I do not approve of the book’s separa -
tion of viewers according to sex.
60 Te idea of the individualising head and the symbolic body 61 For the refection of the social persona in funerary art, see
was frst suggested by Brilliant 1974, 166-68 and is today Ewald 2004, 230. For “double identity” in the Roman
tradigenerally accepted; see for example Hallett 2005a (who also tion of self-representation, see Koortbojian 2008.
sees the nude body as a “costume”), the approach taken by 62 Te latest volume on these issues, and the frst written for
Zanker in Zanker & Ewald 2004, and Koortbojian 2008. an Anglophone audience, is Elsner & Huskinson 2011.
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could therefore be either a near relative of the deceased more persons in one sarcophagus is rare, but when it
or a person who chose a sarcophagus for him- or her- happened we are most likely dealing with a family
con63 68self. Te presence of a still-living patron could be ap- sisting of parents and one or two children. Tis use
preciated immediately through both inscriptions and of sarcophagi as single burials, or in a very few cases
portraits when entering a tomb. A well-preserved and for a family, is generally refected in the number of
69rich example of how the patron was visually represented portraits found on a single sarcophagus. As we will
in a tomb is found in the mausoleum of Herma Valerius see, the most frequent scenario involved one fgure
in(Mausoleum H) in the necropolis beneath the Vati- dividualised through the application of portrait features,
64can. Te inscription of the tomb facade informs us but as can be seen from Graph 1, sarcophagi with two
that Gaius Valerius Herma founded the tomb for him- portraits are not uncommon either. However, more
70self and his wife Flavia Olympia, his daughter Valeria than two portraits on one relief are rare. In
producMaxima, his son Gaius Valerius Olympianus, and for ing the statistic presented here, some sarcophagi with
65his freedmen, freedwomen, and their descendants. more than one portrait representation have been
catValerius Herma is recorded as a patron in inscriptions egorised in the group of single commemorations, if the
not only on the outside of the tomb, but also on sev- portraits are considered to represent the same person.
eral individual burials inside the tomb: he is identifed Tis means that sarcophagi such as the famous ‘brother
as the father commemorating his two children on the sarcophagus’ from Naples (Fig. 4 & 81; cat. no. 641),
tombs of his son and his daughter and as the patron
of two additional burials belonging to foster sons, and
he is also mentioned in the inscription on a freedman’s
68 An example mentioned by Dresken-Weiland (2003, 246)
burial of his wife, where Herma Valerius is designated is a cofn bought by the wife for her family, both the wife
66as the good patron. Patronage was a privileged way (Aelia Euthenias), the husband (Acilius Primigenius), and
of securing one’s memory that was only available to the a girl named Tuscolana (the daughter?) were supposed to
be buried in the sarcophagus, and all three of them are rep-few who had sufcient fnancial means. Patrons such
resented together in a clipeus on the frontal relief. Another as Valerius Herma took the opportunity to engage in
example is cat. no. 269, discussed below. Te depiction of their own self-representation while commemorating the
a family in a clipeus is unusual, and the sarcophagus, which dead. In a similar manner, the presence of patrons is
is published in Giglioli 1942 with a drawing and a photo of
felt strongly on sarcophagi, where portraits and names
the lid, may be equal to cat. no. 458. However, the drawing
of the one who erected the monument are revelatory published by Giglioli shows a sarcophagus with columns at
67of his or her status and relationship to the deceased. each end instead of lions. Another example of more than one
Sarcophagi are, as a general rule, meant to hold one interment in the same cofn is that of a woman named Aelia
Sabina, who was buried together with her newborn daugh-or at most two individuals. Te interment of three or
ter (Dresken-Weiland 2003, 247). A documented exception
to the close familiar relation between the persons buried
63 It was the responsibility of the family and the heir to arrange together is T. Manlius Prunicus, who bought a sarcophagus
a Roman’s funeral (Rawson 2003, 338). for his wife (Claudia Ianuaria) and later added the name of
64 Mausoleum H. For the publication of the necropolis, see his brother, Manlius Cyriacus (Dresken-Weiland 2003, 257).
Mielsch & Hesberg 1995; Liverani & Spinola 2010, 92-108. In this case the family bond is between the patron and the
65 Te formulaic phrase et suis libertis libertasque posterisque deceased, and not directly between the two deceased.
eorum and similar formulations may have been written as 69 I know of only one sarcophagus from Rome which bears the
part of the self-representation created to show the patron as inscription “sibi et suibus”. Te sarcophagus was bought by
a benefcial man and not primarily for securing the juridical Gladia Felicitas for herself and her family (Dresken-Weiland
rights of freedmen to be buried inside the tomb. For a discus- 2003, 265). Tis formula is normally added to the façade of
sion of this, see Bodel 2008, 212-14. For a full account of the a tomb built to house several inhumations, cremations, or
inscription of Valerius Herma, see Toynbee & Ward-Perkins sarcophagus burials.
1956, 101, note 59 or Wallace-Hadrill 2008, 68. 70 Te only exceptions are cat. nos. 100, 645, 114, 116, 249, and
66 Wallace-Hadrill 2008, 66-76. 458, and the sarcophagus mentioned in note 66. Te Hylas
67 For a general introduction to inscriptions on sarcophagi, see relief (cat. no. 594) is here not considered to present more
Koch & Sichtermann 1982, 25-7. than two portraits, cf. Birk 2010/11.
| Images for Contemplation 23
This page is protected by copyright and may not be redistributedCONTENTS INDEX
Number of Sarcophagi with Single or Dual Commemorations
500
450
400
350
300
250
200
150
100
50
0
single commemoration dual commemoration
Graph 1 Based on appendix A, showing the number of sarcophagi commemorating one person and two people.
72with four fgures individualised through a portrait of was represented as the ninth Muse. Te number of
the same man, is represented in the category of single persons buried in one cofn therefore normally
cor71commemorations. responds to the picture we get from the number of
portraits carved on the relief and to the names given
73Judging from the rare instances in which bones have in sarcophagus inscriptions. Tere are, however, some
been found and registered during the discovery of a exceptions which can be explained by the re-use of older
sarcophagus, this picture of the cofns as single burial cofns or unexpected bereavement. A strigillated
sarplaces is confrmed. Te relief on cat. no. 65 shows one cophagus with a lion-deer group at each end of the
portrait fgure, that of a learned boy, and inside, the cofn shows a bust with a scroll in a clipeus (cat. no.
cofn housed a skeleton of a single individual. Another 142). A portrait of a young girl has been carved on the
skeleton was found in a cofn from Ostia (Fig. 43; cat. bust, but an inscription on the upper profle of the
no. 97). Te decoration of this cofn represents the
same woman as both a learned woman and a
philoso72 Further sarcophagi with portraits that contained one skeleton pher. A skeleton of a 12-year-old boy was found in a
are cat. nos. 215, 226 (of which we furthermore know that sarcophagus with the representation of the nine Muses
the sex of the portrait and the skeleton correspond), 265, 275 (cat. no. 154), and on the frontal relief, the boy himself
and 415.
73 For the complex relationship between text and art and their
concordance on funerary monuments, see Koortbojian 2006.
Te examples he gives are from the frst century BC, but
71 For the four representations of the same man and the body the article illustrates well how inscriptions and iconography
types, see for example Hölscher 2008, 52. support each other.
|24 Depicting the Dead
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Sarcophagus lid (cat. no. 15). Avignon, Musée Calvet. Photo: Author, courtesy of Musée Calvet. Fig. 6
75cofn mentions two names. It informs us that Valerius following examples: cat. no. 3 is the cofn of a girl
and Domitia, who were brother and sister, were com- buried by her grandfather, on another lid the inscription
memorated by their father. Tree things point to the mentions two brothers who had a sarcophagus made
fact that this cofn was reused and not bought from for a third brother (Fig. 6; cat. no. 15), a strigillated
stock or designed especially for the siblings. First, the sarcophagus with cupids at each end is the fnal resting
portrait features of a girl were carved on the bust, which place of a boy buried by his parents (cat. no. 25), on the
means that the cofn at one point had been used for lid of a strigillated-lion cofn the inscription mentions
a girl. Second, the inscription is carved on the profle, a man who had been buried in a sarcophagus by his
which is only done in cases where there is either no two sons (cat. no. 41), and another lid with harvesting
inscription panel or the panel already has an inscription. cupids commemorates a wife buried by her husband
Finally, the patron was a man, the father; the portrait (cat. no. 48). Tese are only a few examples from the
subject cannot therefore be him. much larger corpus. In conclusion, spouses, children,
When a single individual is represented by a portrait parents, grandparents, and siblings were all designated
76on a sarcophagus, we normally take it to be the image either as deceased or patron. Liberti are practically
77of the person who is buried in the cofn. What about absent from sarcophagus inscriptions.
sarcophagi with representations of two individuals? It In the few cases where an inscription is preserved on
can be difcult to determine whether such sarcoph - a sarcophagus featuring two portraits of two diferent
agi were used as the fnal resting place for one or two persons, the inscription furthermore informs us that one
individuals, but again inscriptions can be helpful in person is commemorated and the other is the patron,
solving this issue. When an inscription mentions two and this must be the case with the portraits as well. Tis
persons, the frst person is designated as the deceased use of double portraits enabled a dual memory
conand the second as the patron who commissioned the struction, since the same sarcophagus commemorated
sarcophagus. Frequently the patron was a spouse or a the deceased and honoured the patron responsible for
parent, and in the case of marital couples the cofn the commission. Te visual decoration of such cofns
74was most often destined for a woman. Te deceased therefore takes part in the negotiation of the identity
and the patron (when they are not the same person)
are almost always closely related, as is evident from the
75 Ewald comes to the same conclusion but also mentions a
sarcophagus given to a patron by his freedmen (1999, 111,
note 620).
76 Dresken-Weiland 2003, catalogue on pp. 239-80. Heirs are
74 Dresken Weiland 2003, 200. A sarcophagus from the mauso- also mentioned, but in this context it is likely that they are
leum of the Valerii is dedicated by a son to his mother (cat. to be found within the same category of family members.
no. 67). 77 Dresken-Weiland 2003, 211.
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Fig. 7 The strigillated sarcophagus of a married couple (cat. no. 304). Rome, Museo Nazionale Romano, inv. 115175. Photo:
Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Roma.
not only of the deceased, but also of the still-living of prosperity. She is furthermore designated with the
patron. Tis can be seen from a strigillated sarcophagus pronoun dignissima. Here it is not only the deceased
in the Museo Nazionale Romano, which has a central wife who has been idealised, but the fact that the hus -
panel showing two busts and an inscription (Fig. 7; cat. band has placed himself in the context of his marriage
78no. 304). Te inscription states the name of the de- with a pious woman and a symbol of knowledge (the
ceased in the dative and adds to it the words marito in­ scroll) connects his person with seminal Roman virtues,
79comparabili. We therefore know that the wife bought such as dignitas, concordia, and learnedness.
the cofn for her husband and that only the man was Marriage was an important relationship for visual
buried there, despite the fact that both the man and the emphasis on sarcophagus reliefs. A man who survived
woman were represented on the front. It may be that his wife and their two children dedicated a sarcophagus
the wife was later buried in the sarcophagus, but there to his three deceased family members (Fig. 9; cat. no.
was no room left for her name in the inscription. She 269); on the lid, a bust is present on each side of the
therefore represents herself on the cofn as a patron and inscription tablet, which identifes the man as P. Aelius
widow. As a consequence of this display of patronage, Myron, his wife Aurelia Agrippina, his daughter Aelia
sarcophagi become media through which living persons Arria, and his son Crescens. Te portrait subjects are
could also negotiate their identities. Another example is in all probability the man and his wife, but whereas the
a lid with acroteria of theatrical masks, Eros and Psyche, wife is buried in the cofn, the man was still alive when
and two portrait busts (cat. no. 73). Te busts represent the cofn was commissioned. Te importance of
reprethe married couple mentioned in the inscription, but senting oneself as the patron becomes explicit on this
in this case the sarcophagus was meant to be the fnal lid, since the father chose to put a portrait of himself
resting place of them both. It was the husband, Marcius on the sarcophagus instead of having the bust beside
Hermes, who buried his wife but he added his name the mother re-carved to resemble one of the deceased
to the inscription followed by a sibi. He represented children. It is P. Aelius Myron with his wife, and
therehimself as a learned man, a husband, and as the coun- fore their marriage, that is emphasised on this funerary
terpart of his wife, who holds a pomegranate, a symbol relief. Unfortunately the cofn has not been preserved,
but considering the standardised iconographic schemes
of sarcophagi, it is unlikely that the children were
represented in portraits on its reliefs. On sarcophagi that 78 Schauenburg 1963.
date from after the second century, children are rarely 79 Cat. no. 445 is another example.
|26 Depicting the Dead
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Sarcophagus lid of P. Aelius Myron and Aurelia Agrippina (cat. no. 269). Rome, Musei Vaticani, Cortile del Belvedere. Photo: Au- Fig. 9
thor, courtesy of Musei Vaticani.
represented together with their mother, father, and sib- boy is represented as a learned man while the son is
lings. Instead they appear as individuals on an equal shown as a lion hunter. It is a general characteristic
level to representations of adults or as a counterpart to that on sarcophagi with interacting fgures, the patron
a parent, yet another indication of the suggestion that is often represented in the form of a portrait bust on
80sarcophagi were made for individual burials. the lid, while the deceased is the fgure that takes part
A man and his wife are represented on a strigillated in the scene. Tis placing of the two persons in
difersarcophagus in the collection of Museo Nazionale Ro- ent registers separates the spheres of the dead and the
mano (cat. no. 434). Te sarcophagus was given by the living in the particular context of mourning and
comhusband, Valerius Valentinianus, and his heirs to his memoration. Whereas the interacting fgure stands as
wife, Marcia Iulia Baebia. Te man and woman are rep- a heroic fgure in an idealised world, the bust on the
resented in a clipeus through the standardised represen- lid is a more prosaic kind of self-representation with a
tation that shows him as a learned person and her as lesser risk of crossing the line in displaying one’s virtues
the supportive wife. Te inscription honours her mem- while still living, a privilege that in the public sphere
ory with words of praise and there is no indication that was only bestowed on those with public ofces and
he was supposed to be buried in the cofn with his members of the imperial house. Te combination of
wife. Te iconography emphasised the man as the most these two realms is also seen on the Lion hunt
sarprominent fgure on the relief; yet the sarcophagus was cophagus (Fig. 10; cat. no. 512), which was found in
meant as the fnal resting place of his wife only. Another the previously mentioned Mausoleum of the Valerii in
sarcophagus from the second century with a clipeus held the Vatican necropolis. A husband, represented as a lion
by two fying victoriae shows two portraits, one of a man hunter, is commemorated by his wife. On the lid she is
and one of a woman (cat. no. 436). Te inscription in- represented as a learned woman, but her portrait was
forms us again that the sarcophagus was bought by the for some reason never fnished.
man for his wife, but that he was supposed to be bur - Te patron and the dead could act together in the
ied in the cofn as well ( sibi). Again we see how, while theatrical representation of bereavement in a
mythostill alive, he used the opportunity to state explicitly that logical landscape. Two sarcophagi, both of which will
he was the patron of the sarcophagus and to represent be treated in more depth later, illustrate how their
rehimself as having had a harmonious marriage. One last lationship could be described by using a metaphorical
example represents the patron (the mother) and the de- language of loss and devotion. Te frst is the famous
ceased (the son) side by side in an iconography that is Alcestis and Admetus sarcophagus from Ostia, which
meant to signalise equal status (cat. no. 43). shows a myth with a married couple represented as the
81 Another iconographic form that is used to insinuate two protagonists of the tale(Fig. 11 ; cat. no. 552). Te
patronage is found on the lid of a Lion hunt
sarcophagus (Fig. 63; cat. no. 498). Te father of the deceased
81 Grassinger, ASR XII 1 (1999) cat. 76; Wood 1978; Fittschen
1984, 142, 160; Zanker & Ewald 2004, 2002-3; Newby 2011,
80 For children’s sarcophagi, see chapter 4. 194-97, 200.
| Images for Contemplation 27
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Fig. 10 Lion hunt sarcophagus (cat. no. 512). Rome, Vatican necropolis beneath S. Pietro, Mausoleum H. Photo: D-DAI-ROM-78.83.
Fig. 11 Alcestis and Admetus sarcophagus (cat. no. 552). Rome, Musei Vaticani, Museo Chiaramonti, inv. 1195. Photo: Author, courtesy
of Musei Vaticani.
|28 Depicting the Dead
This page is protected by copyright and may not be redistributedCONTENTS INDEX
Theseus and Ariadne sarcophagus (cat. no. 612). Cliveden, Buckinghamshire. Photo: Copyright: ©NTPL/Derek Croucher. Fig. 12
husband, Euthodus, made the sarcophagus for his wife early production of sarcophagi than they did in the
and himself while he (and maybe also she?) was still third century, when families are rarely represented
to82alive. Te other is the Cliveden sarcophagus with Te- gether. On the sarcophagus of Marcus Cornelius Statius
seus and the abandoned Ariadne (Fig. 12; cat. no. 612). in the Louvre, the portrait of the deceased boy is carved
Te sarcophagus, on which both protagonists show por- on the relief together with his still-living parents (Fig.
84trait features, was given by a mother to her son. More 14; cat. no. 615). In the frst scene, a woman
breastsimple compositions could also illustrate the relation- feeds a child while a man stands at her side. Tese two
ship between the deceased and the patron. A female fgures are both applied with a portrait of the boy’s
patron, Oflia Marcella, had a strigillated sarcophagus parents. In the next scene, the father, again identifed
with three fgural panels made for herself and her late through portrait features, holds the child, who is here
husband (Fig. 13; cat. no. 647). For the central scene, shown as a little older. In the third scene, the boy drives
she chose a cofn with a dextrarum iunctio motif to sym- a ram-drawn wagon: it is here that we can for the frst
bolise their fawless marriage, and her emotions towards time be certain that the boy himself is depicted with
her husband are described in the inscription through the portrait features. Te problem of recognising the
porwords marito bene merenti. But Oflia Marcella wanted trait is due to the young age of the boy in the previous
to express more than concordia about their relationship scenes. In the last scene, the father is represented as a
and she constructed an idea of both of them as persons seated philosopher tutoring the boy. According to the
with individual and complementary virtues. On the frst inscription and size of the cofn, only the child is buried
and ffth panels, she and her husband are represented there, but the decoration creates a memory of the whole
separately as learned fgures, she with a scroll and he family. Te life course of the boy is the central theme
83dressed like a Greek philosopher. of the relief, but the parents used the opportunity for
Families could express themselves diferently in the self-display, and through their choice of motifs they
represented themselves with virtues related to
parenthood, concordia, and intellectuality.
82 For this sarcophagus, see also pp. 98-9, 146.
83 Ewald was the frst to take note of this inscription (1999, cat.
F 3). For further examples of the relationship between the 84 Amedick 1993, 143-45; Zanker 1995, 239-40; Huskinson 1996,
deceased and the patron, see Birk 2012. 22, cat. 1.23; Dimas 1998, 67, cat. 386.
| Images for Contemplation 29
This page is protected by copyright and may not be redistributedCONTENTS INDEX
Fig. 13 Strigillated sarcophagus with a learned woman, a dextrarum iunctio scene, and a philosopher (cat. no. 647). Rome, S. Sabina.
Photo: D-DAI-ROM-96.1458.
Fig. 14 The sarcophagus of Marcus Cornelius Statius (cat. no. 615). Paris, Musée du Louvre, inv. MA 659. Photo: © RMN-Grand Palais
(Musée du Louvre) / Les frères Chuzeville.
However, sarcophagi were also put up without pa- 29 years, three months, and half an hour old.
Accordtrons exploiting the opportunity to promote themselves. ing to Ewald the precise specifcation of his age means
On the sarcophagus of Lucius Pullius Peregrinus (cat. that he had a horoscope drawn up in order to know the
no. 120) only one portrait is carved of the two that exact time of his birth, which makes a connection with
85were prepared. Furthermore only one name is men- the philosopher iconography of the relief. Te use of
tioned in the inscription, and therefore this cofn was horoscopes fourished in “vulgär-philosophie” in Roman
86probably not meant to house more than one person imperial times. Te specifcation of Pullius’ age on his
despite the blank portrait. Te age of Pullius is given sarcophagus also means that he could not have had the
in the inscription in detail, which tells us that he was inscription carved himself. We can therefore assume
85 Andreae 1969, 6; Fittschen 1972, 492-93; Ewald 1999, 152. 86 Ewald 1999, 115.
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that another individual took care that the sarcophagus The Individual Choice
was put up after Pullius’ death, but the patron remained We have observed so far that sarcophagi as a general
both unnamed and faceless. rule were commissioned for one person, and only rarely
Two portraits carved on one cofn are therefore were meant to house more than two family members. It
often not an indication of two burials. Tis is im - is also worth noting that portraits and inscriptions on
portant for the purposes of studying identity as ne- sarcophagi put more emphasis on the relation between
88gotiated on sarcophagi. However, it is still possible to man and wife than on the family as a larger unit. In
speak about identity without the secure knowledge of cases where the cofn was purchased in advance of a
whether one or both of the portrayed persons were person’s death, he or she had an infuence on the
selecactually buried in the sarcophagus. Dead or alive, tion of motif. Otherwise it was the family who chose
self-representation through portraits was used to show the cofn and found a suitable motif for the deceased.
aspects of the identities of the persons represented. It remains, however, to be discussed how freely this
Both the deceased and the patron wanted to construct choice of motif could be made. To answer this question
ideal memories, and both achieved this by combin- some practical aspects of producing sarcophagi need
ing metaphors of the right virtues with their portrait. to be touched upon. Tis will be done here through
Since this kind of self-representation was centred on consideration of some of the working processes involved
the tomb, the role models of the portrayed persons, in carving a sarcophagus, since they are important for
both the deceased and the patron, had to be appropri- understanding the degree of fexibility involved in the
ate for the sphere of the dead. Tere seems, however, production. Furthermore, the market mechanisms that
to have been little variation in body types used for sarcophagus workshops responded to potentially
inself-representation in tombs and houses. In Historia fuenced the fnal product. Our frst question,
thereAugusta it is described how portraits of the emperor fore, is whether sarcophagi were purchased from stock
Tacitus were displayed in the house of the Quintilii in a workshop that mass-produced them, or whether
representing him once in a toga, once in armour, once they were the outcome of a production system that
87in a Greek mantle, and once as a hunter. Tese are responded to individual orders.
all body types that we know from portrait fgures on Previous studies of sarcophagi are often based on the
sarcophagi. Te only body type that is not frequently idea that they were “on-stock products”. It follows that
paralleled on sarcophagi is the heroic naked military they were “impersonal” and that the patron had only
89man with a cloak. He is found on cat. no. 627, but limited choice in the process of designing the relief.
apart from some appearances in mythological scenes, It is easy to see why the idea of pre-fabrication and
I know of no such examples. Tis homogeneity in the mass-production has almost completely overshadowed
self-representational form probably explains why there consideration of the infuence of individual patrons in
is no variation in the body type used for the living pa- the analysis of sarcophagus images, since the
standarditron and the deceased person, a situation that instead sation of motifs makes such a system seem likely. Te
varied according to individual needs. Te combination repetition of motifs is also evident from the categories
of fgures in scenes does not necessarily reveal whether
the people were dead or alive, apart from a tendency
to place the portrait of the patron on the lid and the 88 Tis picture might change when we look at the tomb as a
portrait of the deceased on the frontal relief in scenes whole. In the cases where sarcophagi were placed in family
funerary complexes, one sarcophagus represents one indi-with interacting fgures.
vidual or unit of the family, and the tomb symbolises the
family in its entirety. It should, however, be kept in mind
that sarcophagi were not always placed in a family tomb, see
below.
89 Andreae 1984; Carroll 2006, 112-14; Cuomo 2007, 82, 94-5;
87 For a discussion of this text in the context of self-representa - Newby 2007, 233. For the most recent discussion of the
tion and the values of body types from the Roman republic meaning of the terms industry and mass­production in the
and into the imperial period, see Koortbojian 2008. context of sarcophagi, see Russell 2011 (121-23).
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