The Sarcophagus of Adelphia
From the Catacombs of St. John, Syracuse, Sicily
Case: 2nd quarter of the 4th century. Lid: Possibly later.
Marble, 69 cm. high, 85 cm. wide, 207 cm. long (case); 20 x 80 x 200 (cover).
Archeological Museum, Syracuse, Sicily
Two winged figures hold a framed inscription: HIC ADELFIA POSITA C F CONPAR BALERI COMITIS, "Here lies Adelphia C.F., spouse of Comes Valerius." The "C. F." abbreviation is for clarissima femina, an honorific for women in the foremost families of the Empire. The title Comes (plural comites) also designates a highly important member of the Imperial circle. Sgarlata (143-46) finds no comites in Sicily regularly using the name Valerius, and no identifiably Christian comites at all, until the end of the century. Thus either a Comes Valerius flourished in the second quarter-century but escaped the notice of history, or the lid is newer than the case by many decades. The latter possibility is also suggested by the lid's picturing the Adoration of the Magi even though that event is already shown in the lower register of the case.
The scenes carved on the sarcophagus:
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Photographed at the museum by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.