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Panel of a Diptych Announcing the Consulship of Justinian

Date:
521
Geography:
Made in Constantinople
Culture:
Byzantine
Medium:
Ivory
Dimensions:
Overall: 13 15/16 x 5 7/8 x 3/8 in. (35.4 x 14.9 x 1 cm)
Classification:
Ivories
Credit Line:
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917
Accession Number:
17.190.52
  • Description

    Justinian, who would be the greatest emperor of the early Byzantine period, presented these handsome ivory panels to a member of the Roman Senate announcing his election as consul. The title, now largely honorific, was once that of supreme magistrate of the Roman Republic. Once hinged together with the names of the other consuls inscribed in wax on the interior, the panels were probably presented as an invitation to the great public games that new consuls hosted in Constantinople’s hippodrome (stadium). The elegantly carved classical motifs focused attention on the inscriptions written in Latin, still the official language of the Empire.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: [continuous across the top]: FL[avius] PETRVS SABBAT[ius]IVSTIN[ianus] V[ir] I[n]L[ustris] / COM[es] MAG[ister] EQQ[uitum] ET P[editum] PRAES[entalis] ET C[onsul] ORD[inarius]; [continuous in the central medallions]: MVNERA PARVA QVIDEM PRETIO SED HONORIBVS ALMA / PATRIBVS ISTA MEIS OFFERO CONS[ul] EGO

  • Provenance

    Aymard, Le Puy; Sigismond Bardac, Paris; J. Pierpont Morgan, London and New York (from 1909)

  • See also
    What
    Where
    When
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
464489

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