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Archeological Object

Memento mori

Memento mori

The mosaic, which is in Second Style, formed the emblem of a floor situated in the triclinium; it presents an allegorical and symbolic approach to the philosophical theme, of Hellenistic origin, of the transience of life and the imminence of death ("memento mori") which, by eliminating the disparities of social class and wealth, restores equilibrium to the vagaries of fate. The upper part of the composition shows a level with a plumb-line, an instrument used by workmen to check the level of buildings. The axis of the plumb bob is death (the skull), while below it is a butterfly (the soul) balanced on a wheel (Fortune). Beneath the arms of the level, which are opposed and perfectly balanced, are the symbols of poverty to the right (the knapsack, the beggar’s stick and the cloak) and the symbols of wealth to the left (the sceptre, purple and the crown). It is worth emphasising the care with which the artist uses colour to give greater precision and characterisation to some of the objects such as the skull or the level, where the different shades of colour make it possible to highlight the wooden part of the instrument and the connecting parts in bronze.

Further information
Codici (Label is not translated)
  Ente_competente: Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici delle Province di Napoli e Caserta
  SGTI: allegoria della morte
Localizzazione_geografico-amministrativa (Label is not translated)
  PVCS: Italia
  regione: CAMPANIA
  provincia: Napoli
  comune: Napoli
  LDCT: palazzo
  Name: Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli
  Indirizzo: Piazza Museo, 19 - 80135
  LDCM: Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli
  Location: Sala LIX
Altre_localizzazioni_geografico_amministrative (Label is not translated)
  TCL3: -------------------------
Dati_patrimoniali (Label is not translated)
  Inventory number: 109982
  INVD: 1863 post
Dati_tecnici (Label is not translated)
  MISU: cm.
  Height: 47
  Width: 41
Dati_analitici (Label is not translated)
  Inscriptions - text:

Condizione_giuridica_e_vincoli (Label is not translated)
  CDGG: proprietà Stato
Fonti_e_documenti_di_riferimento (Label is not translated)

Ruesch 263; Reinach 1922, n. 14, p. 267; Elia 1932, n. 423, p. 148; Brendel 1934, pp. 157-160, nota 4; Adam 1984, fig. 81, p. 44; Collezioni Museo 1989, I,1, n. 27, pp. 118-119; De Caro 1994, p. 191; PPM I, 1996, n. 11, p. 192; De Caro 1999, p. 73; Homo Faber 1999, n. 392, p. 310; Pompeii 1999, n. 391, p. 310; Pompeji 2000, n. 392, p. 136; De Caro 2001a, pp. 31-32; De Caro 2001b, p. 78; De Albentiis 2002b, p. 391; Larew 2002, p. 322, fig. 266; Natural History 2002, p. 322, fig. 266; Ancient Roman Civilization 2003, p. 172.