World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Cup of the Ptolemies

Article Id: WHEBN0009191193
Reproduction Date:

Title: Cup of the Ptolemies  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Hardstone carving, Hellenistic art, Engraved gem, Ptolemaic Kingdom, Roman technology
Collection: Bibliothèque Nationale De France Collections, Hardstone Carving, Hellenistic Art, Ptolemaic Kingdom, Roman Empire Cameos
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Publication
Date:
 

Cup of the Ptolemies

Front (top) and back (bottom) of the cup.

The Cup of the Ptolemies (French: Coupe des Ptolémées) is an onyx cameo two-handled cup, or kantharos.[1][2] The cup, decorated with Dionysiac vignettes and emblems, was carved at some point in Classical Antiquity, probably in Alexandria. Eventually, it found its way into the treasury of the French kingdom, before it was donated to the abbey of St. Denis. During the Middle Ages, it was used as a Christian chalice, and lavish mounts were added, with Latin inscriptions. In 1804, the cup was stolen, and the mounts were lost, although the cup itself was recovered. It is now in the Cabinet des Médailles at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris.

Contents

  • Description 1
  • History 2
  • Chalice mount 3
  • Notes 4
  • References 5
  • Further reading 6

Description

The two-handled cameo cup, one of the acknowledged masterpieces among hardstone carvings of classical antiquity,[nb 1] was carved out of onyx and measures 8.4 cm high with a diameter of 12.5 cm.[4] The cup is covered in Dionysiac vignettes and emblems, depicting masks, vases, holy animals, and garland: symbols of the cult itself.[6]

On the upper-left side of what is today considered the back of the vessel, the mask of young Telete or Ceres, two deities often associated with Dionysus. Above the table is a tapestry and two bacchante masks. To the right, in an apple tree, another mask of Pan can be seen. Two more bacchante masks are present on the bottom, in front of the table.[6]

The reverse side is extremely similar to the other, showing six masks surrounding a anclabris, although there are a few major differences. The anclabris is depicted as if it were made out of marble, and two sphinxes—beings that serve as allegories for the secrets and mysteries of the Dionysian cult—are supporting the table. On the anclabris stands a small statue of Hermes, next to which hangs a mask with pipes. Above this mask may very well be the raven of Apollo.[6] On the left side of the table, a goat is seen resting on the ground, surrounded by the symbols of the cult.[7] Finally, a wicker basket can be found to the right of the table, out of which a snake emerges; this basket motif is often found in Dionysian artwork, and seemingly was an object of great importance to the religion.[6]

It seems that the vessel's pagan origins were overlooked when it was converted into a Christian chalice during the Middle Ages. Classicist Erika Zwierlein-Diehl noted that many descriptions of the cup omitted the Dionysiac nature of the carvings and images, merely noting the general presence of trees, heads, and animals. This (possibly purposeful) loss of iconographic understanding, also referred to as "un-naming", seems to have been a way for pagan artifacts to be reused for Christian purposes; the Cup of the Ptolemies is therefore an example of interpretatio christiana, or the adaptation of non-Christian elements of culture or historical facts to the worldview of Christianity.[8]

History

An oblique view of the front

The cup was probably made in Alexandria, Egypt. It was once thought to date back to the Hellenistic period, c. 250 BC,[4][5] but is now regarded as dating to the 1st century AD.[8] Its supposed connection with the Ptolemies dates back to a description in 1644 by historian Jean Tristan de Saint-Amant; he argued that the vase was made for the funeral processions of Ptolemy II Philadelphus, who ruled the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt from 285 until 246 BC.[3][4][9][10] Scholar E. Babelon argued that the cup had been made in Egypt during the general time of the Ptolemies, a much looser range stretching from 305 to 30 BC.[10] However, there is no particular evidence for this, and other scholars, such as John Henry Middleton or Martin Conway, suggest that the cup was carved later, during the first or second centuries AD by Romans.[2][5] Dating the cup is difficult largely because similar pieces are rare, making comparison difficult.[5]

The exact history of the cup is largely unknown, although Conway suggests that the cup probably belonged to the Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne before being passed down through the French kings, one of whom eventually donated it to the abbey of Saint Denis.[5] The cup was occasionally used as a chalice for communion wine, and figured in the coronation of the French monarch, at which, according to S. G. Millet as quoted by Conway, the queens took "ablution from this chalice, after holy communion".[2][5] In 1634, the cup was estimated to be worth around 25,000 livres, with the gem-encrusted gold mountings valued at 1,200 livres. Until September 1791 it formed part of the treasury of the Basilica of Saint-Denis. It was stolen in 1804, although it was later recovered—without its mounts—when the thieves were caught in Holland.[2][4] The cup is now in the Cabinet des Médailles at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris.[11]

Chalice mount

Engravings of the front and the back of the cup made for Michel Félibien in 1706, depicting the mounts and Latin inscriptions.

Sometime during the Carolingian period, a base "in the shape of a truncated cone" was constructed to make the vessel appear more like a traditional chalice, and the the cup's knob was "partially covered with cloisonné goldsmith work".[12] Later, in the 12th century, Abbot Suger of Saint Denis (who served from AD 1122–1151) probably embellished the chalice, adding the metalwork that widens the bottom of the chalice.[12] These mounts were made out of gold and were gem-studded. After the cup was recovered in the 19th century, it was missing its mounts, which were probably melted down for their precious materials.[5] Today, the mounts are only known through an engraving by Michel Félibien that was made in 1706.[3][4]

Suger also added a two-line Latin inscription on the chalice mount, known only from the engraving made by Félibien, which reads: hoc vas Xpe tibi [devota] mente dicavit tertius in Francos [sublimis] regmine Karlus. In English, this legend means: "The [exalted] Charles III, on the French throne, consecrated this vessel for you, Christ, with a [faithful] mind."[4][nb 2] Most scholars agree that this inscription links it to Charles the Bald, who ruled Western Francia from AD 840–877.[5][12][14] Others think it refers to either the Charlemagne who ruled Francia from AD 768–814, or Charles the Simple who also ruled Western Francia from AD 919–23, although these suggestions seem unlikely.[3][4][15][nb 3]

Notes

  1. ^ Michel Félibien refers to it as "the most precious vase that is in the treasure of Saint-Denis, and perhaps in any European cabinet",[3][4] and Martin Conway notes that it is "one of the greatest treasures in the Cabinet des Médailles".[5]
  2. ^ In the 19th century, scholars suggested that words were missing from the lines, since the legend seems to be incomplete as it reads in the engravings. Visconti proposed the addition of the words "devota" and "sublimis", which are included in brackets.[13]
  3. ^ Conway argues that Suger was almost certainly referring to Charles the Bald: "Seeing that Suger himself in his own writings calls Charles the Bald Charles III, and as Charles the Bald gave many treasures of great value to St. Denis, whereas Charles the Simple is not otherwise known to have given any, it is practically certain that Charles the Bald was the donor."[5]

References


-- Module:Hatnote -- -- -- -- This module produces hatnote links and links to related articles. It -- -- implements the and meta-templates and includes -- -- helper functions for other Lua hatnote modules. --


local libraryUtil = require('libraryUtil') local checkType = libraryUtil.checkType local mArguments -- lazily initialise Module:Arguments local yesno -- lazily initialise Module:Yesno

local p = {}


-- Helper functions


local function getArgs(frame) -- Fetches the arguments from the parent frame. Whitespace is trimmed and -- blanks are removed. mArguments = require('Module:Arguments') return mArguments.getArgs(frame, {parentOnly = true}) end

local function removeInitialColon(s) -- Removes the initial colon from a string, if present. return s:match('^:?(.*)') end

function p.findNamespaceId(link, removeColon) -- Finds the namespace id (namespace number) of a link or a pagename. This -- function will not work if the link is enclosed in double brackets. Colons -- are trimmed from the start of the link by default. To skip colon -- trimming, set the removeColon parameter to true. checkType('findNamespaceId', 1, link, 'string') checkType('findNamespaceId', 2, removeColon, 'boolean', true) if removeColon ~= false then link = removeInitialColon(link) end local namespace = link:match('^(.-):') if namespace then local nsTable = mw.site.namespaces[namespace] if nsTable then return nsTable.id end end return 0 end

function p.formatPages(...) -- Formats a list of pages using formatLink and returns it as an array. Nil -- values are not allowed. local pages = {...} local ret = {} for i, page in ipairs(pages) do ret[i] = p._formatLink(page) end return ret end

function p.formatPageTables(...) -- Takes a list of page/display tables and returns it as a list of -- formatted links. Nil values are not allowed. local pages = {...} local links = {} for i, t in ipairs(pages) do checkType('formatPageTables', i, t, 'table') local link = t[1] local display = t[2] links[i] = p._formatLink(link, display) end return links end

function p.makeWikitextError(msg, helpLink, addTrackingCategory) -- Formats an error message to be returned to wikitext. If -- addTrackingCategory is not false after being returned from -- Module:Yesno, and if we are not on a talk page, a tracking category -- is added. checkType('makeWikitextError', 1, msg, 'string') checkType('makeWikitextError', 2, helpLink, 'string', true) yesno = require('Module:Yesno') local title = mw.title.getCurrentTitle() -- Make the help link text. local helpText if helpLink then helpText = ' (help)' else helpText = end -- Make the category text. local category if not title.isTalkPage and yesno(addTrackingCategory) ~= false then category = 'Hatnote templates with errors' category = string.format( '%s:%s', mw.site.namespaces[14].name, category ) else category = end return string.format( '%s', msg, helpText, category ) end


-- Format link -- -- Makes a wikilink from the given link and display values. Links are escaped -- with colons if necessary, and links to sections are detected and displayed -- with " § " as a separator rather than the standard MediaWiki "#". Used in -- the template.


function p.formatLink(frame) local args = getArgs(frame) local link = args[1] local display = args[2] if not link then return p.makeWikitextError( 'no link specified', 'Template:Format hatnote link#Errors', args.category ) end return p._formatLink(link, display) end

function p._formatLink(link, display) -- Find whether we need to use the colon trick or not. We need to use the -- colon trick for categories and files, as otherwise category links -- categorise the page and file links display the file. checkType('_formatLink', 1, link, 'string') checkType('_formatLink', 2, display, 'string', true) link = removeInitialColon(link) local namespace = p.findNamespaceId(link, false) local colon if namespace == 6 or namespace == 14 then colon = ':' else colon = end -- Find whether a faux display value has been added with the | magic -- word. if not display then local prePipe, postPipe = link:match('^(.-)|(.*)$') link = prePipe or link display = postPipe end -- Find the display value. if not display then local page, section = link:match('^(.-)#(.*)$') if page then display = page .. ' § ' .. section end end -- Assemble the link. if display then return string.format('%s', colon, link, display) else return string.format('%s%s', colon, link) end end


-- Hatnote -- -- Produces standard hatnote text. Implements the template.


function p.hatnote(frame) local args = getArgs(frame) local s = args[1] local options = {} if not s then return p.makeWikitextError( 'no text specified', 'Template:Hatnote#Errors', args.category ) end options.extraclasses = args.extraclasses options.selfref = args.selfref return p._hatnote(s, options) end

function p._hatnote(s, options) checkType('_hatnote', 1, s, 'string') checkType('_hatnote', 2, options, 'table', true) local classes = {'hatnote'} local extraclasses = options.extraclasses local selfref = options.selfref if type(extraclasses) == 'string' then classes[#classes + 1] = extraclasses end if selfref then classes[#classes + 1] = 'selfref' end return string.format( '
%s
', table.concat(classes, ' '), s )

end

return p-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- -- Module:Hatnote -- -- -- -- This module produces hatnote links and links to related articles. It -- -- implements the and meta-templates and includes -- -- helper functions for other Lua hatnote modules. --


local libraryUtil = require('libraryUtil') local checkType = libraryUtil.checkType local mArguments -- lazily initialise Module:Arguments local yesno -- lazily initialise Module:Yesno

local p = {}


-- Helper functions


local function getArgs(frame) -- Fetches the arguments from the parent frame. Whitespace is trimmed and -- blanks are removed. mArguments = require('Module:Arguments') return mArguments.getArgs(frame, {parentOnly = true}) end

local function removeInitialColon(s) -- Removes the initial colon from a string, if present. return s:match('^:?(.*)') end

function p.findNamespaceId(link, removeColon) -- Finds the namespace id (namespace number) of a link or a pagename. This -- function will not work if the link is enclosed in double brackets. Colons -- are trimmed from the start of the link by default. To skip colon -- trimming, set the removeColon parameter to true. checkType('findNamespaceId', 1, link, 'string') checkType('findNamespaceId', 2, removeColon, 'boolean', true) if removeColon ~= false then link = removeInitialColon(link) end local namespace = link:match('^(.-):') if namespace then local nsTable = mw.site.namespaces[namespace] if nsTable then return nsTable.id end end return 0 end

function p.formatPages(...) -- Formats a list of pages using formatLink and returns it as an array. Nil -- values are not allowed. local pages = {...} local ret = {} for i, page in ipairs(pages) do ret[i] = p._formatLink(page) end return ret end

function p.formatPageTables(...) -- Takes a list of page/display tables and returns it as a list of -- formatted links. Nil values are not allowed. local pages = {...} local links = {} for i, t in ipairs(pages) do checkType('formatPageTables', i, t, 'table') local link = t[1] local display = t[2] links[i] = p._formatLink(link, display) end return links end

function p.makeWikitextError(msg, helpLink, addTrackingCategory) -- Formats an error message to be returned to wikitext. If -- addTrackingCategory is not false after being returned from -- Module:Yesno, and if we are not on a talk page, a tracking category -- is added. checkType('makeWikitextError', 1, msg, 'string') checkType('makeWikitextError', 2, helpLink, 'string', true) yesno = require('Module:Yesno') local title = mw.title.getCurrentTitle() -- Make the help link text. local helpText if helpLink then helpText = ' (help)' else helpText = end -- Make the category text. local category if not title.isTalkPage and yesno(addTrackingCategory) ~= false then category = 'Hatnote templates with errors' category = string.format( '%s:%s', mw.site.namespaces[14].name, category ) else category = end return string.format( '%s', msg, helpText, category ) end


-- Format link -- -- Makes a wikilink from the given link and display values. Links are escaped -- with colons if necessary, and links to sections are detected and displayed -- with " § " as a separator rather than the standard MediaWiki "#". Used in -- the template.


function p.formatLink(frame) local args = getArgs(frame) local link = args[1] local display = args[2] if not link then return p.makeWikitextError( 'no link specified', 'Template:Format hatnote link#Errors', args.category ) end return p._formatLink(link, display) end

function p._formatLink(link, display) -- Find whether we need to use the colon trick or not. We need to use the -- colon trick for categories and files, as otherwise category links -- categorise the page and file links display the file. checkType('_formatLink', 1, link, 'string') checkType('_formatLink', 2, display, 'string', true) link = removeInitialColon(link) local namespace = p.findNamespaceId(link, false) local colon if namespace == 6 or namespace == 14 then colon = ':' else colon = end -- Find whether a faux display value has been added with the | magic -- word. if not display then local prePipe, postPipe = link:match('^(.-)|(.*)$') link = prePipe or link display = postPipe end -- Find the display value. if not display then local page, section = link:match('^(.-)#(.*)$') if page then display = page .. ' § ' .. section end end -- Assemble the link. if display then return string.format('%s', colon, link, display) else return string.format('%s%s', colon, link) end end


-- Hatnote -- -- Produces standard hatnote text. Implements the template.


function p.hatnote(frame) local args = getArgs(frame) local s = args[1] local options = {} if not s then return p.makeWikitextError( 'no text specified', 'Template:Hatnote#Errors', args.category ) end options.extraclasses = args.extraclasses options.selfref = args.selfref return p._hatnote(s, options) end

function p._hatnote(s, options) checkType('_hatnote', 1, s, 'string') checkType('_hatnote', 2, options, 'table', true) local classes = {'hatnote'} local extraclasses = options.extraclasses local selfref = options.selfref if type(extraclasses) == 'string' then classes[#classes + 1] = extraclasses end if selfref then classes[#classes + 1] = 'selfref' end return string.format( '
%s
', table.concat(classes, ' '), s )

end

return p
  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c d
  3. ^ a b c d
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i
  6. ^ a b c d e f
  7. ^ a b
  8. ^ a b
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b
  11. ^ Babelon 368; D. Gaborit-Chopin, Le Trésor de Saint-Denis [The Treasury of Saint-Denis], exhibition catalogue, D. Alcouffe, D. Garborit-Chopin et al., Paris: Musées du Louvre, 1991, no. 11, pp. 38-40.
  12. ^ a b c
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^

Further reading

  • B. de Montesquiou-Fezensac and D. Gaborit-Chopin, Le Trésor de Saint-Denis, 3 vols (Paris, 1973-77)
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 


Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.