Sarcophagus with the contest between the Muses and the Sirens, Late Imperial, Gallienic, third quarter of 3rd century a.d.
Roman; in the Villa Nero, Rome, about 1640; later, in the Giardino Torrigiani, Florence
Pentelic marble; Overall 21 3/4 x 77 1/4 x 22 1/2 in. (55.3 x 196.2 x 57.2 cm)
Rogers Fund, 1910 (10.104)
On the front, the deities Athena, Zeus, and Hera, assembled at the far left, preside over a musical contest between the Muses and Sirens. The Muses, associated with man's 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. On each side is a rampant greyhound, the coat of arms of the Del Nero family, probably added in the seventeenth century.