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Sarcophagus (lid)

Sarcophagus (lid)

c. 100-125

Part of a set. See all set records

Greek marble

Overall: 210 cm (82 11/16 in.)

Gift of the John Huntington Art and Polytechnic Trust 1928.856.b



The front of this sarcophagus, or coffin, is decorated with a series of scenes about the mythical Greek hero Orestes, shown three times wielding a short sword. In the center he stands over the body of his mother Clytemnestra, and at the left over the body of her lover Aegisthus. Orestes has murdered both of them to avenge the death of his father Agamemnon, king of the Greeks, who had left home many years earlier to fight in the Trojan War. Upon returning to his kingdom, he found his unfaithful wife with her lover Aegisthus. These two then killed Agamemnon and Orestes vowed that when he became a man he would seek revenge. At the far left is Agamemnon's tomb with Greek Furies (avenging spirits) resting upon it. At the far right, Orestes visits the shrine of Apollo at Delphi (marked by the tripod and rock) to atone for the murders. The front of the lid is decorated with four reclining women who symbolize the seasons. From left to right they are: Autumn, Summer, Spring, and Winter. On the short sides are winged, bearded griffins (half-lion and half-eagle). The sarcophagus was probably made for an upper-class tomb outside Rome.

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