Detail of The Harts Apse: Saints Peter and Paul

First half of the 5th century
Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, west apse

Following the traditional iconography, Peter carries keys and has a short, square beard while Paul carries a scroll and is balding from the front. (His beard, however, in not pointy as in most other images.) Like the other saints pictured in the mausoleum, they wear short togas over ankle-length white tunics or albs with two vertical stripes.

The birds drinking from a footed bowl resemble the more common motif of peacocks approaching a fountain, a way of expressing both the thirst of the repentant for healing and the promise of immortality. (See my essay on fountains and peacocks.) The motif is more closely followed in the corresponding image on the east apse and echoes the harts approaching running streams in the lunette below this one.

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Read more about images of St. Peter and St. Paul.

Photographed at the site by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.