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Funerary Inscription for Maconiana Severiana, CIL 6.3834

sarcophagus relief
Ariadne and Bacchus Sarcophagus Relief, 210-220 CE

Maconiana Severiana was the beloved young daughter of apparently wealthy senatorial parents (vir clarissimus and clarissima femina were titles of senators and their wives in the High Empire). She is thought to have been unmarried, from the absence of a husband's name, and still quite young, given the small size of her marble sarcophagus. The monument is curved and beautifully decorated on all sides with deeply cut bas reliefs relating to Dionysus. To the right of the central scene, the Minoan princess Ariadne, abandoned by Theseus, is about to be wakened by Dionysus (center), god of wine and rebirth, with his joyous revelers, perhaps symbolizing Maconiana's passage from death into afterlife. For some reason Ariadne's face, where a portrait of Maconiana might have been inscribed, remains uncarved; since Romans traditionally included portraits of the deceased on figured sarcophagi, it is possible that her parents, attracted to this ready-made sarcophagus, decided against having their child's features on a mature female body. The front edge of the lid contains an inscription in a central panel flanked by small roof-like tiles containing Dionysiac motifs.

D[is] · M[anibus]
FAVSTINIANVS V[ir] C[larissimus] ET
PRAECILIA SEVERINA C[larissima] F[emina]
[hoc monumentum fecerunt]

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Ann R. Raia and Judith Lynn Sebesta
Return to The World of Childhood
January 2007