|Diptych with Circus Scenes
H 33 cm
In the 5th and 6th centuries such ivory diptychs
were produced to commemorate the conferment
of the title of consul (the highest position in
Ancient Rome remained in Byzantium as a
honorary title) and thus are known as consular
diptychs. According to tradition, after the
conferment the consul had to arrange a circus
performance, during which small change was
On the two panels we see animals being taunted.
The entire surface of the diptych is covered with
scenes, in which tense moments in the contest
between man and beast are convincingly
conveyed; there is, however, no sign of the
traditional representation of a new consul.