• Sarcophagus "The Story of Hippolytus"

    height: 125,0 cm

Sarcophagus "The Story of Hippolytus"

Ancient Rome, late 2nd century A.D.

This sarcophagus is decorated with a relief depiction of the story of Phaedra and Hippolytus that was told by the eminent ancient dramatists – the Greek Euripedes and the Roman Seneca, and other Classical authors. On the right-hand side wall, we see Phaedra, the daughter of King Minos of Crete, who became the second wife of Theseus, the ruler of Athens. Phaedra became smitten with her stepson, Hippolytus, and here is entrusting a letter confessing her desire to a servant. On the central wall, we see Hippolytus spurning his stepmother’s love and the servant with the calamitous letter. Offended by his rejection, Phaedra slandered Hippolytus to his father. The young man’s death is shown on the left-hand side wall. Phaedra then committed suicide, destroyed by her own treachery and unrequited passion. A strong interest in Greek mythology was characteristic for Roman sculptors of the 2nd century AD. Finding inspiration in the legends and copying Greek prototypes, the Roman sculptors produced amazing, unsurpassed examples of ancient plastic art that besides their high artistic value also had a practical purpose. A sarcophagus like this could have held the remains of some noble and educated Roman.


Sarcophagus "The Story of Hippolytus"




height: 125,0 cm

Acquisition date:

Entered the Hermitage in 1862; originally in the Marquis Campana collection in Rome

Inventory Number:





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