Sarcophagus with marine procession

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This sarcophagus dates back to the 2nd century and its frontal part is adorned with a group of marine gods and subjects. In the centre, Poseidon, the absolute sovereign of the oceans, emerges from the sea’s wild waves with his chariot, dominating the scene. On his side Tristons, Nereids and “pistrici” (in Greek mythology the pistrici were mosters. The lower part of their bodies resempled a snake). On the extreme left, Poseidon’s wife appears, Amphitrite – recognizable from the veil on her head and from the typical hand gesture. Numerous exuberant Erotes are depicted while flying through the sea foam, talking with the Nereids or playing with the dolphins; animating almost the entire scene that is occupied by an embossed decoration.

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The beloved marine subject, although simplified, can be found once again on both short sides of the sarcophagus, where a sea griffon is held by the reins by a young Erote who is standing on its saddle. In some way, the messengers of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, manage to domesticate even the most majestic sea monsters. The theme of the group of marine gods and subjects is quite frequent in the decorations of sarcophagi from the 2nd century AD. Due to stylistic reasons, our sample can be dated towards the last decades of the 2nd century.

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