“By all means marry; if you get a good wife, you’ll be happy.
If you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher.“ –Socrates
I love intellectuals with a sense of humor, and when the curators of the Greek National Archaeological Museum in Athens included this sarcophagus in their collection, they scored a goal with me. Funerals were serious business in ancient Greece, but I can’t imagine looking closely at this coffin without grinning.
The sarcophagus started life as a beautifully carved vault for the remains of a couple. The next person on stage was a starving artist with an overactive chisel. And before we know it, the guy gets cut out all together and reduced to a group of papyrus scrolls. After a bit of rock-hammer nip and tuck, the lovely lady is reduced to pure Athenian androgyny, then her head was lopped off and replaced with the cue ball cranium of the benefactor.
The fact that this sarcophagus wasn’t broken into roadway gravel is amazing enough, but to somehow end up in a world-class archaeology museum makes the tale even funnier. I can hear the artist now: “Don’t worry, it looks just like you. I’m sure no one will notice.”
It’s weird to be sure, and the audacity of it all makes it wonderful as well: a Greek sculptor’s answer to photoshopping. Who knew?
James & Terri