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[AC] Mead Art Museum at Amherst College; [HC] Hampshire College Art Gallery;
[HD] Historic Deerfield; [MH] Mount Holyoke College Art Museum; [MH SK] The Joseph Allen Skinner Museum at Mount Holyoke College; [SC] Smith College Museum of Art; [UM] University Museum of Contemporary Art at UMASS Amherst

 


Maker(s):Unknown
Culture:Roman (ca. 165-180 C.E.)
Title:Sarcophagus with Sea Creatures
Date Made:ca. 165-180 C.E.
Type:Sculpture
Materials:Cararra marble
Measurements:Overall: 16 15/16 in x 70 1/2 in x 22 in; 43 cm x 179.1 cm x 55.9 cm
Accession Number:  AC 2012.346
Credit Line:Museum Purchase
2012-346_view_1.jpg

Label Text:
The Latin inscription, translated below, provides the names of the two dead children, their ages, and a four-line poem in dactylic hexameter.

"To the departed spirits of Laberia Alexandria, who lived 10 years, 5 months, 7 days,
and of Sylvanus, who lived 6 years, 5 months, 14 days.

In this sarcophagus, the unhappy mother buried two bodies, her children, forever to live in sorrow. She survives her children and leads a most miserable life—her husband snatched away by death, the father of these poor little ones."

Richard Wilbur, Amherst College Class of 1942 and John Woodruff Simpson Lecturer in English, composed this version in iambic pentameter:

In this sarcophagus, two children lie
Whose mother’s eyes shall nevermore be dry.
Her husband’s gone, who sired these luckless dears.
His childless widow faces empty years.

In four rhymed lines, the former U.S. poet laureate and double Pulitzer Prize winner tenderly conveys the mother’s despair.

PJR, 2013

14 Related Media Items


Richard Wilbur for AC 2012.346.mp3
Richard Wilbur for AC 2012.346.mp3
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Richard Wilbur for AC 2012.346.mp3
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Richard Wilbur for AC 2012.346.mp3
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Richard Wilbur for AC 2012.346.mp3
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Richard Wilbur for AC 2012.346.mp3
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Richard Wilbur for AC 2012.346.mp3
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Richard Wilbur for AC 2012.346.mp3
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Richard Wilbur for AC 2012.346.mp3
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Richard Wilbur for AC 2012.346.mp3
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Richard Wilbur for AC 2012.346.mp3
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Richard Wilbur for AC 2012.346.mp3
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Richard Wilbur for AC 2012.346.mp3
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Richard Wilbur for AC 2012.346.mp3
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