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Medieval Treasures from Hildesheim

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Sarcophagus with a Greek Physician

Date:
early 300s
Geography:
Made in Ostia, Rome
Culture:
Roman
Medium:
Marble
Dimensions:
21 3/4 x 23 1/4 x 84 7/8 in. (55.2 x 59.1 x 215.6 cm)
Classification:
Sculpture-Stone
Credit Line:
Gift of Mrs. Joseph Brummer and Ernest Brummer, in memory of Joseph Brummer, 1948
Accession Number:
48.76.1
  • Description

    Inscribed in Greek: If anyone shall dare to bury another person along with this one, he shall pay to the treasury three times two thousand [whatever the unit was]. This is what he shall pay to [the city of] Portus, but he himself will endure the eternal punishment of the violator of graves.

    Gift of Mrs. Joseph Brummer and Ernest Brummer, in memory of
    Joseph Brummer, 1948 (48.76.1)

    The tomb’s owner is shown seated with an open scroll, the pose of a philosopher, demonstrating that he is a learned man. His profession can be identified by the open case containing surgical tools on the cabinet top. Other scrolls and a basin for bleeding patients within the cabinet offer further proof of his profession. The style of his dress and the language of the inscription indicate that he was one of the many Greeks living in Italy. Beginning in the 300s, Christians would adopt in their art the philosopher pose and the undulating motifs, or strigils, that appear on the sides of the sarcophagus.

  • Provenance

    Trattoria della Barcaccia, via Condotti, Rome (by 1794–at least 1822); Giuseppe Balestra, Villa Balestra, Monti Paroli, Rome (by 1881–at least 1900); Prince Giovanni Del Drago ; [ Veneziani, Rome (sold 1931)]; [ Brummer Gallery, Paris and New York (1931–1948)]

  • See also
    What
    Where
    When
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
468268

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