A Study of Mythological Figures in Catacomb Art Open Access

Kim, Young Joo (2015)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/4t64gn66d?locale=en


Catacombs were built in Rome in the second century first when there was a need for more burial space. Along with the preexisting columbaria, catacombs served as mass burial systems for both Christians and non-Christians in Rome. Although catacombs were eventually out of burial use, they were still integrated by church and became Christianized monuments. Therefore catacomb art is generally considered as Christian art. The presence of mythological figures such as Orpheus, Hercules, and Sol Invictus can be observed in catacomb art before and after the Edict of Milan in 313 A.D. The mythological figures likely represent Christ or reflect the virtues of Christ, namely His divinity and humanity. The presence of mythological figures in catacomb art indicates visual syncretism of Christianity and traditional religions in Rome. The relationship between the image of Christ and His identity in Rome can be observed by studying the imageries in catacomb art.

Table of Contents

Introduction (pp. 1-2)

Catacomb Paintings (pp. 2-6)

1. Orpheus (pp. 6-14)

2. Hercules (pp. 15-23)

3. Sol Invictus (pp. 23-28)

4. Christ the Magician (pp. 28-32)

Conclusion (pp. 32-34)

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