Date: early 3rd century A.D.
Dimensions: H. 28 1/2 in. (72.39 cm)
Classification: Stone Sculpture
Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1947
Accession Number: 47.100.4a, b
An inscription at the center of the lid informs us that this trough-shaped sarcophagus was dedicated to a woman named Arria, who lived fifty years and ten months, by her daughter Anina Hilaria. Arria's matronly looking portrait is carved just to the right of the inscription. The story of Endymion is shown in daringly undercut high relief on the front of the sarcophagus. In the center, the moon goddess Selene alights from her chariot to visit her beloved, the shepherd Endymion, who reclines at the right. Endymion, most beautiful of men, has been granted eternal youth and eternal sleep; a female figure stands over him pouring out the magic potion of immortality and holding a bunch of sleep-inducing poppies. The scene is flanked on the left end of the sarcophagus by a rising Helios, the sun god, and on the right by a descending Selene, each in a chariot. On the back, a bucolic scene with herdsmen among grazing bulls and unyoked horses is cut in low relief. At once flamboyant and precise, the workmanship of the sarcophagus represents the peak of Antonine-Severan technical mastery. Allusions to the changeless cycle of nature form the background for a myth of fulfillment through unending sleep.