Fragment of a Sarcophagus with a Seated Figure

Date: ca. 250

Geography: Made in Asia Minor

Culture: Roman

Medium: Marble

Dimensions: Overall: 11 x 9 13/16 x 2 3/16 in. (28 x 25 x 5.5 cm)

Classification: Sculpture-Stone

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1918

Accession Number: 18.108


Images of seated figures holding open scrolls, as here, were understood throughout the Late Roman world to be philosophers, or learned men. Originally part of a large sarcophagus with five niches separated by columns, this figure represented interest in an intellectual life and its usefulness in achieving a happy future life. The philosopher pose was adopted from the 300s onward for images of intellectual leaders of the Christian church, including Christ, his apostles, and the Four Evangelists.