Stilicho diptych

Type: Diptychs
Date: ca. 400
Location or Findspot (Modern-Day Country): Italy
Medium: Ivory
Dimensions: each panel 33 × 16 × 0.9 cm
Description: Stilicho was originally a Vandal who rose in the Christian, Roman hierarchy to marry the neice of the emperor and become the de facto ruler of the western half of the Roman Empire between 395 and 408. Stilicho’s daughter married Emperor Honorius, who had his father-in-law killed after he failed to secure the northern Roman borders against invading Vandals, Seubi, Alans, and Goths.

Stilicho is depicted with his wife and son on an ivory diptych, hinged panels that were widely used by Roman officials from the fifth to the mid-sixth century. The images in relief on the exterior authenticated messages enclosed inside, either incised into soft wax or written on a piece of papyrus or parchment. How these panels were originally hinged together is uncertain—was Stilicho’s son, who holds a diptych, on the edge or in the middle?
Relevant Textbook Chapter(s): 2
Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons, O. Mustafin

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