Tuesday, November 15, 2022


Banquet Scene

Paul Zanker and Björn C. Ewald, Living with Myths: The Imagery of Roman Sarcophagi, tr. Julia Slater (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), p. 173, illustration 161, followed by the caption:
The deceased lies at table, and four long-haired servants serve him with the best things Nature has to offer. Two women play music to him, and behind him cupids are holding a long garland. Vatican Museums. Around 280.
Id., p. 172, with note on p. 275:
The most elaborate of all the known picnic banquet scenes is on a sarcophagus in the Vatican, carved around 280 (Ill. 161).131 The relief—like the kline monuments (p. 29)—shows only one person lying on a couch, who is being pampered and served in the most lavish way. A woman is playing a stringed instrument (pandurium), and behind her another plays the double flute. Four handsome boys with long hair are bringing to the table the best produce the countryside has to offer. Three flying cupids are hanging up a garland and a larger cupid is strewing flowers on the banqueter, just as in Lucian's Elysian Fields. The prepared dishes and the uncooked animals brought along from the countryside (a hare and a peacock) show that nothing is lacking here.

131. Amedick, ASR I 4 (1991), 167 f;, no. 286, plates 15 ff.
The reference is to Rita Amedick, Die antiken Sarkophagreliefs, Band. 1: Sarkophage mit Darstellungen aus dem Menschenleben, Teil 4: Vita Privata (Berlin: Gebr. Mann Verlag, 1991) (non vidi).

There is a fuller illustration, showing the lid, in Stine Birk, Depicting the Dead: Self-Representation and Commemoration on Roman Sarcophagi with Portraits (Aarhus: Aarhus University Press, 2013), p. 149, fig. 81, followed by caption:
The sarcophagus of P. Caecilius Vallianus (cat no. 536). Rome, Musei Vaticani, Museo Gregoriano profano, inv. 9538/9539. Photo: FA-S5718-01.
The inscription is Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum XI 3800 (from Isola Farnese / Veii):
D(is) M(anibus) s(acrum) / P(ubli) Caecili / Valliani / a militi(i)s / vixit ann(os) / LXIIII
Katherine M. D. Dunbabin, "The Waiting Servant in Later Roman Art," American Journal of Philology 124.3 (Autumn, 2003) 443-468 (at 450):
Vallianus reclines on his couch in the centre, with the table in front bearing a fish; a woman seated beside him plays a musical instrument, the pandurium. A maidservant with a vessel stands behind her, and on either side youthful male servants (six in all) hurry to serve their master. Three carry huge plates with various delicacies—a cake, a suckling pig, a fowl—a fourth carries the jug and basin used for handwashing; the two at either end bear live animals, a peacock and a hare. Baskets of roses stand at the ends beyond them. All the servants are similar in type, with long hair flowing over their shoulders, smooth cheeks, torques around their necks, soft shoes, and long-sleeved full tunics reaching to their knees.

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