Sarcophagus with Scenes from the Life of Achilles; artist anonymous;
180-220 AD; marble, very high-relief carving, some elements are sculpture in the round;
52x83x57 in; well preserved with some damages on the right and left sides.
I. This is a three-dimensional rectangular object with a massive lid that has a shape of a flat couch with two figures reclining on it. Even though both figures look alike and their faces are unfinished, they are slightly different. The figure in the front is a female. She has long hair, small breast, and a round face. The other figure is a male. He has a beard; details of his face are more masculine and angular. Both figures have long clothes. All four ...view middle of the document...
This work of art has a three-dimensional form. The front section is highly polished and has a very smooth texture. The right and left sections have some damages; therefore, their textures are rough. The space on the front and right sections is fully used. Their scenes are very dynamic. The proportions of some figures were not completely observed. For example, horses on the relief in the front are very small comparing to humans. Another example is the man on the left section. The sculptor had to give him an unnatural posture awkwardly bending his legs, so that the man did look taller than the central figure.
III. The subject-matter of all three visible sides of the sarcophagi is the scenes from the Achilles' life. He is a Greek mythical hero of the Trojan War. The subject-matter of the relief on the right is the discovery of Achilles hiding among the daughters of Lykomedes. According to the myth, Achilles’ mother, Thetis, wants to prevent her son's death and sends him to the court of Lykomedes on the island of Skyros where Achilles is hidden among the young girls. Soon he is discovered by Odyssey (the bearded man on all three relieves) with whom he goes to Troy. On the relief in the front, Achilles mounts his chariot to drag Hector's body before the walls of Troy. Hector was the son of the Trojan king Priam. Hector mistakenly killed Achilles' friend Patroclus. Overwhelmed by his grief, Achilles kills Hector. The relief on the left side depicts Achilles putting on his armors with Odysseus' help. The relief in the back is unfinished and is not visible. Its subject-matter is the scene of the battle between the Greeks and the centaurs, which is unrelated to the Achilles' life.
IV. Cremation was the most common funerary practice in Roman...