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Part of an Orestes Sarcophagus

The large size of a sarcophagus — as compared to a cremation urn — gave Roman sculptors scope for decoration. Interestingly the most common subjects for this decoration were not scenes from the life of the deceased, or Roman history, but episodes from Greek legends.

Battles with Amazons were a favourite, as were Dionysiac scenes; another legend commonly depicted shows Orestes after the murder of Aigisthos and Clytemnestra.

To the left the clean-shaven Orestes holding his sword has just killed the bearded Aigisthos, who has slumped dead from his throne, but fears his own fate. An old nurse turns away horrified

Location of Original: 

Rome, Vatican, Galleria dei Candelabri

0.53 x 2.28m

Robert: Die Antiken Sarkophag-Reliefs, II, 174, pl. LVI.158
Helbig: Führer durch die Öffentlichen Sammlungen Klassischer Altertümer in Rom (2nd edition) II, 227, no.355 (or 338 in 3rd edition?)
Richter: Ancient Italy, 93 (similar one in Madrid)

Roman, Hadrianic

From Rome

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