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.
[ Hagop Kevorkian, New York (sold 1918)]
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Netzer, Nancy. "Modes of Remembering the Classical Past." In Memory and the Middle Ages, edited by Nancy Netzer, and Virginia Reinburg. Chestnut Hill, Mass.: Boston College Museum of Art, 1995. p. 8, fig. 1.