Roman; Probably northern Asia Minor
Rogers Fund, 1918 (18.108)
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.