Ash Chest



Large rectangular ash chest of C. Munius Serenus. It has thick walls and is decorated on all three sides, the back is undecorated and the cavity is roughly worked and the inner ege of the tip is raised to hold a lid although there are no clamp holes. The inscription on the panel is: DIIS MANIBUS C.MVNII SERENI SACRUM The translation is: sacred to the Shades of Caius Munius Serenus. The insciption is well positioned in the field and the letters are even and distinctly formed. The form of the inscription with the sacrum at the end is unusual. The front is decorated in two zones of decoration and ornate mouldings. The upper frieze has a central bucranium and corner rams' head supporting two fruit and flower garlands slung between them. The bucranium has a daisy chain around its brow and the usual fillets. The spaces above the garlands are empty and the ribbons (taeniae) attached to the animals' horns and fluttering onto the upper mouldings. Between the two panels at the front there is a plain fascia moulding. The main field is also framed by a plain fascia and an elaborate leaf moulding which is interrupted along the top edge by the top of the inscription panel. The insciption also has its own frame with a plain fascia and a cyma. Flanking the inscription are two winged youths standing with their legs crossed, leaning as if asleep on reversed torches. Behind the inscription panel there is an acanthus design with scrolls enclossing rosettes in the centre. The mouldings on the base of the chest include a deep leaf cyma and a guilloche decorated astragal, the decorative motifs only on the front and the front portion of the sides, the remainder of the mouldings are undecorated. The upper mouldings also have an elaborate decoration of a leaf cyma, a bead astragal and a tongue design. The main fields on the sides are worked smooth with a jug at the cetnre of the left side and a patera on the right. Although the decoration draws from many classical designs, the overall design and the style are unlikely to be genuinely Roman. The style is Neo-Classical (in particular the bodies of the winged youths, the taeniae fluttering over the moulding and the flower wreath on the brow of the ox-skull). Although the ash chest was probably not made to be taken as a Roman, Blundell assumed it to be such. Blundell identified the winged youths as Dioscouri but they in Roman funerary sculpture the youths leaning on torches would be cupids or genii. wo males leaning on staffs. Bucranium and garlands. Substantial restoration. The chest was bought at the sale of Lord Menhip's collection at Twickenham in 1802. It was not included in the Engravings and Blundell may had taken it to be Roman.