Sarcophagus fragment with Eros and Nereids

About 140–160 CE
47 x 120 x 10.2 cm
Hood Museum of Art: Purchased through the Hood Museum of Art Acquisitions Fund; S.977.21

Sarcophagi provide one of the richest sources of mythological imagery surviving from the Roman past. Nereids and Tritons—sea nymphs and hybrid creatures popular in classical mythology—often adorned these stone coffins. The figures are typically represented engaged in sensuous games in aquatic settings. The presence of Eros, son of Aphrodite, bearing a garland underlines the amorous tone of the scene.

This sarcophagus fragment was once part of the earliest and most important collections of original antiquities in England, established by Thomas Herbert, eighth earl of Pembroke (1656–1733). Dartmouth acquired it in 1977.

Not on view

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Further reading

O. Alvarez, The Celestial Brides: A Study in Mythology and Archaeology, Stockbridge, Massachusetts: Herbert Reichner, 1978, p. 143.

“Antiquities,” New York, New York: Sotheby Parke Bernet Inc., 1976, p. 36.

A. Michaelis, Ancient Marbles in Great Britain, Cambridge, Great Britain: University of Cambridge Press, 1882, no. 115.

A. Rumpf, Die Meerwesen auf den Antiken Sarkophagreliefs, Rome, Italy, 1969, p. 63, no. 145.

T. Barton Thurber, “Survival and Revival of the Classical Tradition: Antiquity in Rome from the Baroque Era to the Age of Enlightenment.” In T. Barton Thurber and Adrian W.B. Randolph, Antiquity in Rome from the Renaissance to the Age of Enlightenment: Selections from Dartmouth’s Collections, Hanover, New Hampshire: Trustees of Dartmouth College, 2001, pp. 47, 50-51, ill. p. 50, detail p. 78, listed p.71.

Treasures of the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, New York: Hudson Hill Press, 1985, p. 37.

Cornelius C. Vermeule, Greek and Roman Sculpture in America, California: The University of California Press, 1981, p. 251, no. 210.

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