Ash Chest



Rectangular ash chest with decoration on its three sides and the back roughly worked. The inscription in the central panel is: D.M C.MINICIVS GELASINVS SIBL.POSVIT To the shades. Caius Minicius Gelasinus placed this here for himself. The inscription is well arranged in the panel with the letters in the last line smaller than those of the other lines. The N is wide, the E is very narrow and the G of a distinctive shape also seen in other inscriptions such as the Manlius Philargyrus. On the front of the chest there are simple mouldings framing the inscription. Below it there are two naked cupids with their wings folded onto their backs, they face each other antagonistically crouching over to wrestle, their further arms raised and their hands meeting while the other arm is lowered. They look at each warily and the palm branch in between them is perhaps the prize for the winner. To the lower corners of the ash chest are two more cupids watching the match. They are also naked and have open wings. The one to the right stands with its feet together and his hands folded across his stomach, perhaps holding something in his hands but impossible to tell what that might be (perhaps a fan or a whisk). He stands in front of some objects which extend into the space beyond the inscription. There is a table with a low base but only its one leg is visible and it fluted and ending in a lion's foot. On the table there is a tall beardless herm at the corner of the front. It is the bust of a fairly mature man with long waving locks and wearing a fillet with hanging ribbons. In front of the herm on the table there is an elaborated decorated vessel with a single high handle looping above the rim and a second horizontal handle attached to the base of the neck (a decorative hydria?).The neck and the lower part of the vessel are fluted and they type of decoration suggests that it was probably made of metal. There is a large wreath between the herm and the inscription panel and it is floating in the air. The wreath is tied with bindings and is made of fruit rather than leaves and has ribbons fluttering into the space at the top right corner of the front. Behind the palm branches are two palm branches. The cupid to the left also watches the wrestlers and has one of his near arms raised to his face. There are two palm branches behind his hand but it is not clear if he is holding them or carrying them over his left shoulder. A fluted hydria or an amphora, missing one of his two handles is behind the cupid and just above his head. More palm branches appear behind the rim of the vase and two more to the right. The left hand side of the ash chest has a naked boy (with no wings) larger than the cupids. He has one hand raised to his head, holding a head gear but some of the details are lost because of a crack and a damage to the face of the figure. His left hand is lowered and extended in front of him to support a long trumpet which he blows. His pose is three quarter one and he faces the front of the chest. In front of him there is a palm tree and behind him a herm on a low base and very similar to the herm at the front of the ash chest. Behind the herm there are large palm branches. The right hand side of the chest has a palm tree close to the back corner. Branches emerge from the top of the tree and bunches of fruit hang at the junction of the trunk and the branches. In front of the tree there is four legged table, the front legs have animal feet and there is a cross rail. On the table there is a large amphora with a fluted body and neck and with tall elaborated curved handles. It is difficult to know what the other two objects on the table are, perhaps vessels or wreaths. They are irregular in shape and of a hollow centre, they could well be baskets or bowls or open bags. All these objects such as the tables, vessels, wreath and palm branches are associated with competitions in palaestra. The trumpeter probably signals to the victor of the competition.