Sarcophagus with relief depicting the hunt for the Calydonian boar

Inv. Scu 917

The front of the sarcophagus is decorated with figures that take up the entire available field.

The scene narrates the myth of Meleager and the hunt for the Calydonian boar, a well-loved theme in the decoration of Imperial period sarcophagi: most likely, the use of this theme aimed at underlining the heroic virtue of the deceased personage.

In the main scene, the composition is carefully balanced while the one on the left, a lion hunt, is organized as a group of overlapping figures.

On the right, there is a deer hunting scene in connection with the main face.

On the lid, there is the depiction of two reclining spouses for which the sarcophagus was commissioned. The woman is holding a lute-like musical instrument. The figures were made in an ordinary workshop and the heads are not finished. The craftsmanship of the lid is inferior in quality to that of the body of the sarcophagus.

The front depicts, from left to right, a bearded man wearing hunting boots, tunic and cloak in movement towards the left but with his head turned backwards. He is holding a short sword in his right hand. A young horseman moving towards the left while he also is looking backwards follows. He is riding a horse that seems to be skittish in the act of terrorizing the boar. There follows a bearded man, dressed similarly to the first, who is holding a stone in his right hand and a shield in his left.

In the centre of the scene, there is the protagonist, young Meleager who is nude except for the cloak wrapped around his left arm. He is spearing the head of the boar. At the same time, the boar is being attacked by two hunting dogs.

In the background, in the midst of this group, there is a girl, Atalanta, dressed like Artemis with a knee-length tunic and cloak tied around her waist. She is depicted while pulling an arrow from her quiver and holding her bow in her left hand. She is wearing hunting boots laced up to her shins. Her hair is wavy and gathered into two horn-like quiffs.

A second horseman is above the boar in the background. He is wearing a tunic belted at the waist, a cloak that moves in the wind and hunting boots. He is holding the reins with his left hand and a broken spear in his right. The horse is covered by a wild animal skin, tied around its neck. The scene closes with a bearded man, dressed like the first at the far left. He is looking towards the left, holds a sword in his right hand and the edge of his robe with his left hand.

In the lower part of the sarcophagus, to the left of the boar, there is a dog with a collar who has captured a crouching hare . In the background, there is a fallen antelope.

The right side depicts two bearded men, as barbarians, wearing sleeved tunics belted at the waist. They are wearing boots and walking one behind the other towards the left. They are holding a large hunting net rolled up and the sticks onto which the net has been tied.

In the background, there is a tree. There is also a dying deer, struck in the throat by a spear, and numerous other animals added to fill in the space in a disorderly and illogical manner. On the ground, there is a dog with a collar who is biting the head of a hare it has caught. There is an injured goat, looking upwards in pain, on the ground between the legs of the man on the right.

The work dates to the first half of the 3rd century AD (201-250 AD).

It was found in Via Valeria, in the section that goes from Tivoli to Vicovaro.