IMPERIAL ROMAN MARBLE RELIEF OF A THEATRE MASK OF SILENUS
A fragment from a garland sarcophagus.
Silens were older, debauched members of Dionysus’ divine retinue. Half-human, half-horse or goat, Silenus was a god specifically associated
with winemaking, and his role as foster parent to
the infant Dionysus. The drunken Silenus had the gift of prophecy. His depiction on sarcophagi invokes the transformative aspects of the Dionysian cult, the cycle
of life coming forth from death. It is no coincidence that Dionysus’ purview encompasses not only
wine and drunkenness, and the fertile cycle of life from death, but also the theatre. Portrayed in this case as a theatre mask, rather than an actual player, we are presented with the prospect of considering the theatre as a metaphor for life.
ate 2nd Century AD
Height: 12.4 cm. (4 7/8 in.)
Width: 16.2 cm. (6 3/8 in.)
Antiquarium, Ltd.; Ancient Treasures XIX. (London, 2020) p.34
Sotheby's; Antiquities. Including the Collection of the Late Lester Wolfe (New York, 03.01-02.1984) lot.78
Koch, Guntram & Hellmut Sichtermann; Romische Sarköphage (Munich, 1982) nos. 110; 178