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Sunday at the Met: Preserving the Immaterial

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Casket with Warriors and Dancers

Date:
11th century
Geography:
Made in Constantinople
Culture:
Byzantine
Medium:
Ivory and bone; gilded copper mounts
Dimensions:
8 x 11 3/8 x 7 1/2 in. (20.3 x 28.9 x 19.1 cm)
Classification:
Ivories
Credit Line:
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917
Accession Number:
17.190.239
  • Description

    If perchance you wish to exempt certain pagans from punishment,
    my Christ, May you spare for my sake Plato and Plutarch,
    For both were very close to your laws in both teaching and way of life.
    Even if they were unaware that you as God reign over all,
    In this matter only your charity is needed,Through which you are
    willing to save all men while asking nothing in return.
    — An epigram to Christ by John Mauropous (ca. 1000–81)

    Classical literature and classical images were preserved throughout the Byzantine period. The erotes who dance and wage mock battles on the sides of this casket and tame a female panther on the lid recall imagery associated with the ancient pagan cult of the god Dionysos.

  • Provenance

    Georges Hoentschel (French, Paris 1855–1915 Paris); J. Pierpont Morgan, London and New York (until 1917)

  • See also
    What
    Where
    When
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
464239

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