Analysis of Sarcophagus with the Triumph of Dionysus and Four Seasons

1 January 2017

Analysis of Sarcophagus with the Triumph of Dionysus and the Seasons A sarcophagus is a container or coffin that is used to bury dead human bodies. The materials used in this sarcophagus are marble which is luxurious and most expensive material and follow by stone, lead and wood. In the front panel of the sarcophagus are the figures of the Greek god Dionysus. The scale of Dionysus is much more biggest when compare with the four seasons and the Bacchus or cultic objects which carved only with a smaller scale.

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Dionysus is the main focal point in this sarcophagus because it is different from the other and he is the only who riding a big beast of panther which make the scale even bigger. Dionysus is holding a scepter or thyrsus in his left hand and pouring wine with his right hand. To the right side of Dionysus, there is the figure of a satyr he is the follower of the god Dionysus. Satyr is holding a cup where the Greek god is pouring the wine for him. On each side of Dionysus there are two male figures carved with profile view positions and have its own deputation.

The Four figures (from left to right, Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall) are holding fruit baskets and one of the four figure is even holding an animal (rabbit) in his right hand. The sides and front of the sarcophagus are decorated with forty human and animals figures. There are covered with fruits basket around at the sarcophagus. On the rounded end of the sarcophagus, there are two other groups of large figures which the scale almost same with the four season. On the left end is Mother Earth, it is portrayed reclining on the ground and accompanied by youths with carrying fruit.

On the right end is bearded male figure reclining in front of two winged youths. It may identify with the personification of a river god. These two sculptures are probably representing two additional Seasons. These sarcophagi create a harmony view. God Dionysus in the middle follow by four seasons with the Winter, Spring at the left hand side together with Autumn, Summer at the other side and the addition season arrange at both side. This to make the sarcophagi more approximate symmetry and they are aligning among each other.

With the repetition of a number of different poses and placement of Bucchic in the background create equality. The emphases of the sculptures are appearing to be naked is to create a heavier visual weight in this sarcophagus and compare with other they look more visible with full scale. The visual impacts in this sarcophagus mainly are repetition. The coronets of plants, fruit basket and Bacchic are repeating many time in this sarcophagus. The form of the faces and poses of the four seasons are same but the implied line of different character look at is different in direction and angle.

The colour of the sarcophagus is same (marble colour). Multiple areas of light and shape make eye to wonder effortlessly from one figure to another. With the shade and light make the five main sculptures brighter among the other. The space of the sculptures in this sarcophagus is carved in high relief and deep dimensional especially the five main sculptures. Different characters are different depth. The five main characters in this sarcophagus are deeper than the other and almost standing free of the marble.

But the God Dionysus is more raised from the background than the four seasons, so these make people more focus on it. The contrast of this sarcophagus is occupied more organic shape and line than geometric. The organic contain in this sarcophagus are Dionysus, four seasons, Bacchics and follow by cultic objects. For the geometric are thyrsus, basket and the four black marble balls to supporting the coffin. The technique using in this sarcophagus is carved technic. Artist use a type of marble which found in Asia Minor Phrygia to make this sarcophagus.

Sarcophagus is a wonderful example of Roman funerary art. Artist using marble as a material to create sarcophagus because marble can creating three dimensional-form and cheaper. During painting cave walls period, humans were fashioned shapes from stone. Marble are smooth and with no stain on it. Among the common available stones, only marble has a slight surface translucency that is much more approaching with human skin. Marble is easy to give the sculpture a visual depth beyond its surface. Marble is soft and easy to work, refine, or polish. Marble are more weather resistant than the others.

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