Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Marble funerary altar

Early Imperial, Julio-Claudian
ca. A.D. 14–68
H. 31 3/4 in. (80.7 cm)
Stone Sculpture
Credit Line:
Fletcher Fund, 1925
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 162
The inscription commemorates a certain Q. Fabius Diogenes and Fabia Primigenia, who lived together for forty-seven years, and tells that the altar was set up by his freedmen, freedwomen, and household slaves. Diogenes himself was probably a freed slave who had acquired a certain wealth and position. This is reflected in the ornamentation of the altar, which is a deliberate echo of imagery used in imperial art of the Julio-Claudian period. The heavy garland suspended from rams’ heads derives from the kind of decoration found on the walls of public sanctuaries. The three types of birds surrounding the garland were all familiar from Augustan monuments: at the center, an eagle, bird of Jupiter, ruler of the gods; at the corners, swans, birds of Apollo, patron god of the emperor; and below the garland, two songbirds, symbols of bountiful nature.
Inscription: Inscribed to Q. Fabius Diogenes and Fabia Primigenia
Alexander, Christine. 1926. "Classical Inscriptions: Recent Accessions." Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 21(7): pp. 177-8, fig. 3.

Richter, Gisela M. A. 1927. Handbook of the Classical Collection. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Pijoán, José and Manuel Cossío. 1934. Summa Artis Historia General del Arte: El arte romano hasta la muerte de Diocleciano: arte etrusco y arte helenistico despues de la toma de Corinto, Vol. 5. Madrid: Espasa-Calpe.

Thimme, Jürgen. 1976. Kunst und Kultur der Kykladeninseln im 3. Jahrtausend v. Chr.: Ausstellung unter d. Patronat des International Council of Museums ICOM im Karlsruher Schloss vom 25. Juni-10. Oktober 1976. no. 86, pp. 114-15 , Karlsruhe: Müller.

McCann, Anna Marguerite. 1978. Roman Sarcophagi in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. p. 19, fig. 7, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1987. Greece and Rome. no. 86, pp. 114-5, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Bodel, John P. and Stephen Tracy. 1997. Greek and Latin Inscriptions in the USA: A Checklist. p. 196, Rome: The American Academy in Rome.

Milleker, Elizabeth J. 2000. The Year One: Art of the Ancient World East and West no. 42, pp. 42-3, 205, New York and New Haven: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Wardropper, Ian Dr. 2003. "Le piedastal du monument du coeur de Heni II." Henri II et Les Arts: actes du colloque international, École du Louvre et Musée national de la Renaissance-Écouen, 25, 26 et 27 septembre 1997, Hervé Oursel and Julia Fritsch, eds. p. 69, fig. 6, Paris: École du Louvre, Paris.

Picón, Carlos A. 2007. Art of the Classical World in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Greece, Cyprus, Etruria, Rome no. 421, pp. 363, 487-88, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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