Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Sarcophagus with a Greek Physician

early 300s
Made in Ostia, Rome
21 3/4 x 23 1/4 x 84 7/8 in. (55.2 x 59.1 x 215.6 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Mrs. Joseph Brummer and Ernest Brummer, in memory of Joseph Brummer, 1948
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 300
The tomb's owner is shown seated with an open scroll, the pose of a philosopher, demonstrating that he is a learned man. His profession can be identified by the open case containing surgical tools on the cabinet top. Other scrolls and a basin for bleeding patients within the cabinet offer further proof of his profession. The style of his dress and the language of the inscription indicate that he was one of the many Greeks living in Italy. Beginning in the 300s, Christians would adopt in their art the philosopher pose and the undulating motifs, or strigils, that appear on the sides of the sarcophagus.
Trattoria della Barcaccia, via Condotti, Rome (by 1794–at least 1822); Giuseppe Balestra, Villa Balestra, Monti Paroli, Rome (by 1881–at least 1900); Prince Giovanni Del Drago ; [ Veneziani, Rome (sold 1931)]; [ Brummer Gallery, Paris and New York (1931–1948)]
Visconti Ennio Quirino. Iscrizioni greche triopee, ora borghesiane: con versioni ed osservazioni. Rome: Stamperia Pagliarini, 1794. p. 72.

Mazois, Charles François. Le palais de Scaurus, ou Description d'une maison romaine: fragment d'un voyage de Mérovir à Rome vers la fin de la République. 2nd ed. 1822. pp. 292–93, pl. VIII.

Corpus inscriptionum graecarum. Vol. 3. Berlin: Berolini ex Officina Academica, 1853. no. 6307, p. 938.

Daremburgh, Charles, and Edmund Saglio, ed. Dictionnaire des Antiquités Grecques et Romaines d'Après les Textes et les Monuments. Vol. 1, pt. 1. Paris: Hachette Livre, 1873. p. 432, fig. 524.

Kaibel, Georg. Epigrammata graeca ex lapidibus conlecta. Berlin: G. Reimer, 1878. no. 712, pp. 286–87.

Matz, Friedrich. Antike Bildwerke in Rom, mit Ausschluss der grösseren Sammlungen. Vol. 2. Leipzig: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1881. no. 3127a, pp. 346–47.

Zaccherini, Goffredo. L'iscrizione di Abercio. Rome, 1898. p. 57.

Petersen, Ernst. "Der Sarkophag eines Arztes." Mitteilungen des kaiserlich deutschen archaeologischen instituts, Roemische abtheilung 15 (1900). pp. 171–76, fig. 5.

Clark, John Willis. The Care of Books: An Essay on the Development of Libraries and their Fittings, from the Earliest Times to the End of the Eighteenth Century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1901. pp. 38–39, fig. 13.

Reinach, Salomon. Répertoire de reliefs grecs et romains. Vol. 3. Paris: E. Leroux, 1912. p. 235, fig. 2.

Calza, Raissa. Ostia. Florence: Sansoni, 1959. pp. 77–78, fig. 111.

McCann, Anna Marquerite. Roman Sarcophagi in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1978. pp. 138–40, fig. 174, 175.

Weitzmann, Kurt, ed. Age of Spirituality: Late Antique and Early Christian Art, Third to Seventh Century. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1979. no. 256, pp. 279-280.

Callmer, Christian. "Tre bilder av grekiska läkare." Sydsvenska medicinhistoriska sällskapets årsskrift (1981). pp. 34–36, fig. 3.

Dresken-Weiland, Jutta. Reliefierte Tischplatten aus theodosianischer Zeit. Vatican City: Pontificia Accademia Romana di Archeologia, 1991. pp. 6, 38.

Bodel, John P., and Stephen Tracy. Greek and Latin Inscriptions in the USA: A Checklist. Rome: The American Academy in Rome, 1997. p. 191.

Ewald, Björn Christian. "Der Philosoph als Leitbild: ikonographische Untersuchungen an römischen Sarkophagreliefs." Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archaeologischen Instituts, Roemische Abteilung 34, supp. (1999). p. 164, pl. 38, no. 2.

Evans, Helen C., Melanie Holcomb, and Robert Hallman. "The Arts of Byzantium." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 58, no. 4 (Spring 2001). p. 10.

Gontar, Cybèle. "The Campeche Chair in The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Metropolitan Museum Journal 38 (2003). p. 192, fig. 19.

Treasure hunt for book lovers: a self-guided tour of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011. no. 3, ill.

Related Objects

Sarcophagus with Scenes from the Lives of Saint Peter and Christ

Date: early 300s, with modern restoration Medium: Marble Accession: 1991.366 On view in:Gallery 300

Sarcophagus Lid with Last Judgement

Date: late 3rd–early 4th century (?) Medium: Marble Accession: 24.240 On view in:Gallery 300

Fragment of a Marble Tomb Relief with Christ Giving the Law

Date: late 300s Medium: Marble Accession: 48.76.2 On view in:Gallery 300

Table Base with Jonah Swallowed and Cast Up by the Big Fish

Date: early 300s Medium: Marble, white Accession: 77.7 On view in:Gallery 300

Bowl Fragments with Menorah, Shofar, and Torah Ark

Date: 300–350 Medium: Glass, gold leaf Accession: 18.145.1a, b On view in:Gallery 300