Animal Representations In Dobrogean Antiquity Art

see Gallery The animal kingdom was amply represented in antiquity; there have been discoveries of representations ranging from the tiniest insects (the ant) to big wild animals (bear, wild bull). These representations reflect either the occupations of the people of those times, or they are connected to certain beliefs.On the Adamclisi triumphal monument – Tropaeum Traiani – there is represented, symbolically, on one of the metopes, a flock of sheep and goats; horses are often encountered in these images: either mounted by a rider, or pulling a cart. But these are domestic animals. On the monument, between the crenels, statues of lions were made (the water from the roof would drain through their mouths).Animals alluding to the agrarian preoccupations can be found also on the tomb of Caius Iulius Quadratus, princeps loci territorium Capidavensis, where we see two scenes: a shepherd leaning on pedum and a peasant ploughing with his oxen-drawn plough.The funerary art used animal representations extensively: even when it was concerned with the representation of the Thracian Knight on such monuments, in the image he is accompanied by a dog that attacks a boar (a symbol of the evil that must be vanquished) and by a snake that coils itself on the tree of life towards which the rider is headed. Still in the funerary art, the representation of the lion is used, as a statue, as guardian of the tombs.In the same domain, that of funerary art, we discover more complex representations, such as hunting scenes, the action being a subtle allusion to reincarnation (just like the animals can be defeated – no matter how fierce they might be – death can be defeated, too). We discovered these scenes on marble friezes belonging to the ancient mausoleums of Tomis. The sculpture thesaurus from Tomis, discovered on the 1st of April 1962, brought to light 24 monuments (statues and bas-reliefs) of utmost importance due to their themes. Among them are the Dioscuri (only one of them was preserved), represented standing by their horses – considered protective divinities of the sailors; still here, there are two extremely interesting representations of Bacchus: on one of the monuments the god is accompanied by his numerous acolytes – and is called kathegemon (the leader); among them, but in a separate frame, is the Thracian Knight; on the second monument, besides the panther (always present in the representations of the god) there is the cista mystica out of which a snake appears. The snake is often represented together with other divinities, to cite only Aesculapius, the Thracian Knight, and Mithras. A statue was discovered in the Tomitan thesaurus, a unique representation in the world, in which the snake is a fantastical appearance: a sheep's muzzle, human hair and ears, the body of a snake, the tail of a lion. This rendering of the protective divinity of the house and of the sacred places was interpreted as suggesting the gentleness of the sheep, the wisdom of man, the sinuosity of the snake and the strength of the lion. The Glykon snake, a divinity created by the false prophet Alexandros of Abonotheikos, as a replica of the god Aesculapius (the Greek Asklepios), caught on very quickly in the age; and if art brings him to us through the Tomitan statue, his image is often encountered on 2nd century A.D. coins.Lupa Capitolina appears in a representation on the funerary stele found at Ibida (Slava Rusa, Tulcea County) and makes an allusion to the Roman origin (that is, precisely from Rome) of the deceased. Another funerary stella with the same theme was discovered at Apulum (Alba Iulia).Translated by Ştefania Tarbu 

by Zaharia Covacef