Sarcophagus with Christian Symbols

5th to 8th century
Basilica of Sant'Apollinare in Classe, Ravenna

Peacocks, symbols of immortality, drink at a fountain shaped like a high-necked kantharos. The fountainhead spouts four jets symbolic of the four rivers of Genesis 2:10. The arc of water enclosing the jets refers to the river that God placed in Paradise to water it and feed the other four.

Flanking the central panel are two crosses and two palm trees. The palms' leaves can refer to the martyrs; their fruit, to spiritual regeneration.

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