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Marble sarcophagus with the myth of Selene and Endymion

Period:
Severan
Date:
early 3rd century A.D.
Culture:
Roman
Medium:
Marble
Dimensions:
H. 28 1/2 in. (72.39 cm)
Classification:
Stone Sculpture
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1947
Accession Number:
47.100.4a, b
  • Description

    An inscription at the center of the lid informs us that this trough-shaped sarcophagus was dedicated to a woman named Arria, who lived fifty years and ten months, by her daughter Aninia Hilara. Arria’s portrait is carved just to the right of the inscription. The story of Endymion is shown in strongly undercut relief on the front of the sarcophagus. In the center, Selene, the moon goddess, alights from her chariot to visit her beloved, the shepherd Endymion, who reclines at the right. Endymion, most beautiful of men, has been granted eternal youth and eternal sleep. A female figure stands over him, pouring out the magic potion of immortality and holding a bunch of sleep-inducing poppies. The scene is flanked on the left end of the sarcophagus by a rising Helios, the sun god, and on the right by a descending Selene, each in a chariot. On the back, a bucolic scene with herdsmen among grazing bulls and unyoked horses is cut in low relief. Allusions to the changeless cycle of nature are combined with a myth of fulfillment through unending sleep.

  • Provenance

    Found at Ostia in 1825

  • References

    Bandinelli, Ranuccio Bianchi. 1966. Enciclopedia dell'Arte Antica, Classica e Orientale, Vol. 7. Rome: Instituto della Enciclopedia Italiana, p. 311, fig. 394.

    Forsyth, William H. and The International Confederation of Dealers in Works of Art. 1974. "Acquisitions from the Brummer Gallery." The Grand Gallery at the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Sixth International Exhibition presented by C.I.N.O.A.. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 4.

    Kossatz-Deissmann, Anneleise, Brigitte Servais-Soyez, Fulvio Canciani, Giovannangelo Camporeale, Hans Peter Isler, Ingrid Krauskopf, Odette Touchefeu-Meynier, Marcel Le Glay, and Dr. Jean-Charles Balty. 1986. Atherion-Eros, Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae, Vol. 3. Zürich: Artemis Verlag Zurich und Munchen, Endymion, no. 81.

    Kossatz-Deissmann, Anneleise, Brigitte Servais-Soyez, Fulvio Canciani, Giovannangelo Camporeale, Hans Peter Isler, Ingrid Krauskopf, Odette Touchefeu-Meynier, Marcel Le Glay, and Dr. Jean-Charles Balty. 1988. Eros-Herakles, Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae, Vol. 4. Zürich: Artemis Verlag Zurich und Munchen, Helios/Sol, no. 343.

    Kossatz-Deissmann, Anneleise, Brigitte Servais-Soyez, Fulvio Canciani, Giovannangelo Camporeale, Hans Peter Isler, Ingrid Krauskopf, Odette Touchefeu-Meynier, Marcel Le Glay, and Dr. Jean-Charles Balty. 1992. Kentauroi-Oiax, Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae, Vol. 6. Zürich: Artemis Verlag Zurich und Munchen, Nyx, no. 8.

    Kossatz-Deissmann, Anneleise, Brigitte Servais-Soyez, Fulvio Canciani, Giovannangelo Camporeale, Hans Peter Isler, Ingrid Krauskopf, Odette Touchefeu-Meynier, Marcel Le Glay, and Dr. Jean-Charles Balty. 1994. Oidipous-Theseus, Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae, Vol. 7. Zürich: Artemis Verlag Zurich und Munchen, Tellus, no. 77; Psyche, no. 153.

    Kossatz-Deissmann, Anneleise, Brigitte Servais-Soyez, Fulvio Canciani, Giovannangelo Camporeale, Hans Peter Isler, Ingrid Krauskopf, Odette Touchefeu-Meynier, Marcel Le Glay, and Dr. Jean-Charles Balty. 1997. Thespiades-Zodiacus, Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae, Vol. 8. Zürich: Artemis Verlag Zurich und Munchen, Venus, no. 215.

    Sorabella, Jean. 2001. "A Roman Sarcophagus and its Patron." Metropolitan Museum Journal, 36: pp. 67-79, figs. 1-5, 8.

    Picón, Carlos A. 2007. Art of the Classical World in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Greece, Cyprus, Etruria, Rome New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, no. 456, pp. 351, 494-95.

    Zanker, Paul. 2012. "Reading Images without Texts on Roman Sarcophagi." Res: Sarcophagi, 61/62: pp. 170-2, fig. 4.

  • See also
    What
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    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
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