The deities Athena, Zeus, and Hera, assembled at the far left, preside over a musical contest betweenthe Muses and Sirens. The Muses, associated with the highest intellectual and artistic aspirations, are defeating the Sirens, creatures that are half woman and half bird who lured men to destruction with their song. A drawing of the sarcophagus was commissioned by Cassiano dal Pozzo, one of the most respected patrons of art and scholarship in Rome during the first half of the seventeenth century. It belonged at that time to the del Nero family, who apparently converted it into a chest with a keyhole cut into the upper center of the frontal panel and had their coat of arms, a rampant hound, carved on the short ends of the sarcophagus.
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Title:Marble sarcophagus with the contest between the Muses and the Sirens
Period:Late Imperial, Gallienic
Date:3rd quarter of 3rd century CE
Dimensions:Overall: 21 3/4 x 77 1/4 x 22 1/2 in. (55.3 x 196.2 x 57.2 cm)
Credit Line:Rogers Fund, 1910
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Richter, Gisela M. A. 1930. Handbook of the Classical Collection. pp. 310–11, fig. 220, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Richter, Gisela M. A. 1970. "The Department of Greek and Roman Art: Triumphs and Tribulations." Metropolitan Museum Journal, 3: pp. 75, 80–81, fig. 14.
McCann, Anna Marguerite. 1978. Roman Sarcophagi in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. no. 5, pp. 21, 46–50, 151, figs. 48–49, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae (LIMC). 1984. Vol. 2: Aphrodisias-Athena. "Athena/Minerva," p. 1094, no. 285, pl. 806, Zürich: Artemis Verlag.
Moret, J.-M. 1984. Œdipe, la Sphinx et les thébains: essai de mythologie iconographique, Bibliotheca Helvetica Romana 23, 2 vols. p. 127, n. 2, Rome: Institut suisse de Rome.
Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1987. Greece and Rome. no. 119, p. 153, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae (LIMC). 1990. Vol. 5: Herakles-Kenchrias. "Iuno," p. 853, no. 356, pl. 553, Zürich: Artemis Verlag.
Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae (LIMC). 1997. Vol. 8: Thespiades-Zodiacus. "Seirenes," p. 1102, no. 119a; "Zeus/Iuppiter," pp. 449, 467, nos. 329, 522; pl. 310, Zürich: Artemis Verlag.
Picón, Carlos A. 2007. Art of the Classical World in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Greece, Cyprus, Etruria, Rome no. 469, pp. 399, 497, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Cain, Hans-Ulrich. 2011. "Den Feunden der Natur und Kunst. Athena, Apollo und Neun Musen im Pantheon des Gartenreichs Dessau-Wörlitz." Münchner Jahrbuch der bildenden Kunst, Vol. 62: p. 23, fig. 26.
Cohon, Robert. 2015. "Roman Metrics and Roman Sarcophagi." Römische Sarkophage: Akten des Internationalen Werkstattgesprächs 11.-13. Oktober 2012, Barbara Porod and Gabriele Koiner, eds. no. 15, p. 83, Graz: Universalmuseum Joanneum.
Zanker, Paul, Seán Hemingway, Christopher S. Lightfoot, and Joan R. Mertens. 2019. Roman Art : A Guide through the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Collection. no. 139, pp. 284–85, New York: Scala Publishers.
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