This
fascinating piece of art is a sarcophagus tub, it’s made of marble and dates
back to the first half of the 2nd century AD. A sarcophagus (meaning “flesh-eater” in Greek)
is a coffin for inhumation burials, this terrifying phrase tells us that they have
believed that this type of stone had an ability to dissolve flesh.  Until the 2nd century AD, the
Romans followed the Greek and Etruscan practice of cremating their dead. The
ashes were placed in a funerary or cinerary urn. The urns were frequently
sculptured and had a stylized representation of the deceased on the lid.  This practice was to continue until the end of
the 1st century AD. For the wealthier families, the urn might be
placed on an altar and a sculptured tombstone might be commissioned; these acts
were to memorialize the dead.   From the 2nd century burials
became more popular and by the 3rd century AD, it was the standard
practice. The poor were buried in cemeteries outside the town or city limits to
avoid pollution within the town or city; the wealthy were also buried in the
same cemeteries but often in elaborate tombs or sarcophagi within them.  Obviously,
something as luxurious and well-crafted as this, and the Fact that it’s made of
marble tells us that it was not for the poor, it was for people from a much higher
social status.  The characteristics of the upper-class sarcophagus
that they were usually of marble or, less frequently, of limestone and were
frequently elaborately carved with scenes from Greek mythology reflecting the
taste of upper-class Romans for Greek culture. Other decorative themes illustrated aspects of
the deceased’s personal and professional life and included battle and hunting
scenes or biographical events from the life of the deceased. A considerable
number were decorated with garlands of flowers, foliage or fruits.  This sarcophagus tub depicts the myth of
Phaedra-Hippolyte, Phaedra, in Greek mythology, was the daughter of Minos, wife
of Theseus and the mother of Demophon of Athens and Acamas.   Though married to Theseus, Phaedra fell in
love with Hippolytus, her stepson, -the reason behind why she fell in love with
him in the first place has many versions but one of them is that Hippolytus had
mocked Aphrodite by telling her to be a virginal devotee of Artemis, so Aphrodite
made Phaedra fall in love with him as a punishment- but he rejected her and
when her passion for him became known, she hanged herself, leaving a letter in
which she charged her stepson of having assaulted her. His innocence never
became known to his father until after his death. We can see that this tub is only carved from
the front that’s because at that time most sarcophagi were placed against a
wall in these tombs, therefore, they were usually only decorated on the front
and the two short sides.How their marble
clothes are so well made that almost feel like draped materials. But what is
fascinating about the whole thing is that we don’t actually see a crime, it’s a
married woman who desired her stepson, that’s “adultery”, but what we see is
the difference of an effect this has on a female and a male.  We see Hippolytos and Phaedra seated back to
back at the shrine of Artemis. In the center of the frieze, a little servant
with a hammer fixes the antlers of a stag to a small shrine. The left part of the frieze is occupied by the
seated Phaedra and two standing female figures. Phaedra’s posture, with lowered
head and raised right hand, reveal the state of her soul, her left hand is
supported by the female figure next to her, showing how the loving female is consumed
by her passionThe image
leaves no doubt that Phaedra’s desperate state is caused by Aphrodite

 On the contrary, we can see Hippolytos, the
naked hunter, and his proud and relaxed posture.

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