Inv. No. A 433. Saint Petersburg, The State Hermitage Museum Photo by Ilya Shurygin
Sarcophagus with a matrimonial ceremony (so-called wedding or marriage sarcophagus, or a sarcophagus of the spouses).
Inv. No. A 433.
Saint Petersburg, The State Hermitage Museum
Rome Late second century A. D. Marble. Length 230 cm. Height 116 cm. Formerly in the Campana Collection. Acquired in 1862. Inv. No. A 433.
The relief on the front wall of the sarcophagus shows a newly wedded couple in the act of offering a sacrifice, with the gods, girls carrying gifts, and attendants bringing to the temple a sacrificial bull. The goddess Concordia is blessing the union; Virtus, the goddess of valour, is crowning the husband; Venus and Hymen promise happiness to the bride and the bridegroom.
This is a so-called biographical sarcophagus. But the relief is not merely an illustration of an episode of the life of the deceased. The three main virtues of Roman citizens are praised here: piety, valour and family consent. The use of allegory reflects an influence of the reliefs carved on triumphal columns and arches. The relief is executed with splendid mastery. The faces of the characters are rendered with great attention to their individual features.