Ash Chest Lid



Lid of ash chest of C. Iulius Hirmaiscus. Although it is associated with 59.148.312 it is not in the illustrations either in the Monumenta Matthaeiana or Blundell's Engravings. The lid was mentioned in Blundell's Account as under no 381 the ash chest of the Flavius Eutyches. The lid has the shape of a roof with acroteria at all four corners and a pediment at the front and the back. The upper sediment is filled with the doe suckling Telephus. The doe stands facing to the right but turns her head to lick the knee of the child below her. The child has his back to the viewer and his right hand is raised to her flank; with his left hand he props himself up. Telephus was the son of Hercules and Auge, the daughter of the King of Tegea. Telesphus was left on a mountain to die because an oracle had predicted that he would kill his uncles. A doe looked after him and Telesphus survived. The scene is similar to the one of Remus and Romulus and the goat Amaltheia suckling Zeus. The exact meaning of the scene in a funerary context is uncertain but mother's nurturing love may have been an appropriate theme for the ash chest of T. Flavius Eutyches, dedicated by his mother to her young son. However it is uncertain that the lid is for that chest. A bucranium (ox's head) is on each of the acroteria half on the front half on the side. Ribbons (taeiniae) decorate the skulls and fill the space with their curves. The outlne of the pediment is with simple mouldings, only the one below the front is a complex moulding running to the width of the lower edge of the lid. The back of the lid was roughly worked and all the undecorated surfaces were smoothened. The underside was not shaped in any way to fit the ash chest but there were two clamp holes now filled with plaster on the right side. The representation of the doe and the child are in high relief with good anatomical details. The eye of the doe has some detail, the eye and ear of the child were made with a drill and some attempt was made to distinguish his fingers. The boucrania are similar but the right one looks more ancient than the left. They are rounded with a bulbous top and eye sockets that have a drill hole in the centre and details drilled channels for the nostrils.