The Freud Museum

Fragment from the Lid of a Sarcophagus

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4381, Fragment from the Lid of a Sarcophagus, A.D. 160-210

Artist: Photographer: Ardon Bar Hama
Culture: Roman
Material: Marble
Dimensions: 10 x 37 in 25.4 x 94 cm

This fragment, from the side of a sarcophagus lid, illustrates the Trojans carrying the ransomed body of Hector, their leader. This story is recounted in Homer’s Iliad. After the burial of his best friend, a distraught Achilles refuses to return Hector’s body to his father Priam, king of Troy. Priam eventually brings a cart of treasure and asks Achilles to think of his own father, which convinces Achilles to surrender the body. Hector is then returned to Troy and receives a proper burial and mourning, two things the Greeks considered essential to a hero’s entry to the afterlife.

During this period in Rome, burial replaced cremation as the customary funeral ritual. Many stone sarcophagi were produced in Rome. They were often decorated with Greek mythology, by which a wealthy patron could demonstrate his superior knowledge of Greek culture.

Freud also owned another fragment of this frieze. The first piece was purchased by a woman, possibly his friend Marie Bonaparte, from Viennese archaeologist and antiques dealer Ludwig Pollak and given to Freud as a gift. When Pollak found the second fragment on the Roman antiques market, he bought it and offered it to Freud.

See this object on our Collections site here 

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