The Great Ludovisi Sarcophagus

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Julius Germanicus, Aug 24, 2017.


Whom was the Great Ludovisi Sarcophagus made for?

  1. Hostilian

    0 vote(s)
  2. Herennius Etruscus

    6 vote(s)
  3. Herennia Etruscilla

    0 vote(s)
  4. Valerian II

    0 vote(s)
  5. Neither of them

    2 vote(s)
  1. Julius Germanicus

    Julius Germanicus Well-Known Member


    While visiting Palazzo Altemps in Bella Roma this summer I suddenly stood in front of this masterpiece of ancient art, the famed Ludovisi Sarcophagus, largest and most elaborate of the third century Battle Sarcophagi.


    The identity of the deceased, who must be the young hero in the centre of the battle scene between Romans and Barbarians, is still not clear.


    While most of the literature seems to attribute it to Hostilian, this seems to be highly unlikely as the young general does not resemble the childlike features of Decius younger son, who is furthermore not known to have taken any part in military actions during his short tenure as Caesar and Augustus.

    Portrait on rare Sestertius of Hostilian as Augustus, 251

    Some attribute the Sarcophagus to a slightly later date which would make Valerian II a candidate, but this is contradicted by the female portrait featured on the cover of the Sarcophagus (which is now in Mainz, Germany) which is said to bear a close resemblance to Herennia Etruscilla, wife of Decius.

    Bildschirmfoto 2017-08-24 um 20.39.19.png

    This should make her other son, Herennius Etruscus, the most likely contender. This is made more plausible by the fact that Hostilian´s elder brother in was indeed in charge of military comand against the Goths as soon as 250 and did perish during the battle of Abrittus in the first week of July, 251, having just been promoted to the rank of Augustus the month before. On Herennius´coinage he is never shown with the slight beard the of the deceased, but that might me either a result of later reworking or meant to resemble a sign of mourning.

    Herennius Etruscus as Caesar, 251

    So what do you think?

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  3. TIF

    TIF Well that didn't last long :D Supporter

    Wow, that is a stunning work of art!
    Julius Germanicus likes this.
  4. randygeki

    randygeki Coin Collector

    Very beautiful
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  5. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

    It tis a beautiful piece of artwork.
    AR Antoninianus
    OBVERSE: Q HER MES DECIVS NOB C, Radiate and draped bust of Herennius right
    REVERSE: CONCORDIA AVGG, Clasped hands
    Struck at Rome, 250/1 AD
    3.53g, 21mm
  6. Mikey Zee

    Mikey Zee Delenda Est Carthago

    Stunning and breathtaking !!

    You 'talked' me into it----H. Etruscus:rolleyes:
  7. Sallent

    Sallent Live long and prosper

    Fantastic sarcophagus. I've never seen anything like it. I have to concur with the ID for the owner, as I think your research is compelling.

    I don't have anything like that to show, all I have is this picture of me in front of a second century sarcophagus featuring Roman soldiers in lorica segmentata, and calvary.


    And the sarcophagus of Constantia, Constantine's daughter, which I photographed at the Vatican.


    And the sarcophagus of St. Helena, mother of Constantine, also photographed by me at the Vatican.

  8. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic

    Julius Germanicus likes this.
  9. Julius Germanicus

    Julius Germanicus Well-Known Member

    Nice Sarcophagi, Sallent! What I find most astonishing about the Ludovisi box is that the scene shows no background whatsoever as the whole space is filled with figures in up to three layers carved out of a single marble block.
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