This chapter examines the selection and presentation of mythological imagery on strigillated sarcophagi, first reviewing figures in single panels, with or without narrative elements. It then considers how these were combined with subjects depicted in other panels, and ends by relating their imagery to various social and cultural developments in Rome. Inevitably, a central theme is their relationship to mythological frieze sarcophagi of the later second century, in terms of their number, range, themes, and narrative treatment. But, it is argued, from the start these strigillated versions provided an alternative, selective mode of representation which allows mythological themes to be represented in their essentials, and, increasingly, to be combined with other themes popular in the third century, such as love in marriage, or an idyllic world of beauty and happiness. Thus these abstracted images have a positive value, and should not be seen in terms of some negative ‘demythologization’.
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