Marble funerary altar of Cominia Tyche

Period: Flavian or Trajanic

Date: ca. A.D. 90–100

Culture: Roman

Medium: Marble

Dimensions: H. 40 in. (101.6 cm)

Classification: Stone Sculpture

Credit Line: Gift of Philip Hofer, 1938

Accession Number: 38.27


The woman whose portrait bust dominates the front of this funerary altar is identified by the Latin inscription below her. It reads: "To the spirits of the dead. Lucius Annius Festus [set this up] for the most saintly Cominia Tyche, his most chaste and loving wife, who lived 27 years, 11 months, and 28 days, and also for himself and for his descendants." Cominia wears an elaborate hairstyle that reflects the high fashion adopted by ladies of the imperial court in the Flavian period (A.D. 69–96). The inscription, on the other hand, emphasizes her piety and chastity, virtues that Roman matrons were traditionally expected to possess. The jug and patera (shallow bowl with handle) on the monument's sides allude to the common practice of pouring offerings to the dead. The altar is known to have been in a house near the Forum in Rome in the sixteenth century and to have entered the collection of Cardinal Francesco Barberini during the seventeenth century.