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The Sarcophagus with the Legend of Achilles - Assignment Example

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This paper "The Sarcophagus with the Legend of Achilles" focuses on the notion of sarcophagus (Greek sarx, “flesh,” and phagein, “to eat”) which in literal terms possibly means a coffin that eats up the body and according to Pliny it denotes a coffin made of sandstone procured from Troad.  …
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Download file to see previous pages In any case, the term came into general use after Roman emperors commissioned large coffins for themselves and their loved ones and sarcophagus is now an archaeological term that is used to denote ornate and well-sculpted coffins used by Egyptians, Greek, and Roman rulers and wealthy noblemen of their courts Sometimes, the inner coffins that were made of wood or metal were encased in outer sarcophagi made of stone.
The sculptures made of stone not only highlighted the robustness of the contemporary society which thrived on the valor and physical power of the ruling class but also immortalized in vivid detail the glory of conquests over arch rivals and enemies and how the person lying inside the coffin dominated all those that were lowly and inferior in power and physical prowess. The dead person was portrayed in a larger than life imagery that more often than not bordered on eulogy and at times plain flattery1. If the historical accuracy is temporarily set aside, one has to marvel at the intricacy of the carvings that are there in almost each and every sarcophagus that was built during Egyptian, Greek and Roman eras.
Though some sarcophagi were made of stone, those that encased the bodies of Egyptian emperors were made of precious metals and the sarcophagus of Tutankhamen was made of solid gold while that of Psussenes I was made of silver. The use of precious metal, especially gold was done to underline the exclusivity and an almost stellar superiority of the Egyptian emperor and place him in a stratum that no other lowly mortal could ever imagine inhabiting.
The innate desire for human beings to beat death and attain immortality was most probably served by sarcophagi that intended to immortalize the myth and saga of rulers and all those that inhabited the higher echelons of society by carving anecdotes, incidents, victories and conquests of their lives in marble and gold for posterity to see, admire and often remain awestruck by the craftsmanship and sheer artistry of those creations. To a modern viewer, quite often the conquests and triumphs engraved on sarcophagi pale into insignificance over the creative capabilities of the craftsmen who actually spent hours and days chiselling the figurines and other details into perfection.    ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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