A ROMAN CARNELIAN RINGSTONE WITH A PROFILE PORTRAIT OF THE PHILOSOPHER EPICURUS
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A ROMAN CARNELIAN RINGSTONE WITH A PROFILE PORTRAIT OF THE PHILOSOPHER EPICURUS

CIRCA 1ST CENTURY B.C.

Details
A ROMAN CARNELIAN RINGSTONE WITH A PROFILE PORTRAIT OF THE PHILOSOPHER EPICURUS
CIRCA 1ST CENTURY B.C.
9/16 in. (1.5 cm.) long
Provenance
Giorgio Sangiorgi (1886-1965), Rome, acquired and brought to Switzerland, late 1930s; thence by continuous descent to the current owner.
Literature
J. Boardman and C. Wagner, Masterpieces in Miniature: Engraved Gems from Prehistory to the Present, London, 2018, p.161, no. 147.
Special notice

This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

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Claudio Corsi
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Lot Essay

This ringstone is engraved with the imposing bust of the philosopher Epicurus in profile, with his characteristic large, curved nose, long beard, deep-set eyes and wearing a himation over his shoulders.
Born in 341 B.C., probably in Samos, Epicurus studied and taught philosophy across the Greek world before establishing his school in Athens. For 36 years, he lived, studied and wrote there, isolated from the outside world except for his students and his scholarship. Both his work and his appearance were recognised throughout Roman times. As Cicero notes, his friend Titus Pomponius Atticus "could not forget Epicurus even if he wanted; the members of our body not only have pictures of him, but even have his likeness on their drinking cups and rings," (De finibus bonorum et malorum, V,i,3).
Portraits of the philosopher occur on several engraved gems dating to the Roman period, thus confirming Cicero's statement that his followers wore likenesses of their master on their rings as a show of reverence and love towards him. For a similar portrait, see a red jasper ringstone at the British Museum, Inv. no. 1867,0507.458.
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