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Bob Hook

I think that syncretism is prevalent in much of the early Christian art and structures of the time of this time. I think that the Sarcophagus of Junius Bassus offers several examples of this. One of the panels shows Christ’s entry into Jerusalem which is a derivative of Roman imperial art. The “adventous’ was an accepted pattern showing the conquering hero being offered homage as they enter the city. Another panel depicts the Judgement of Pilate. Again this is based on a Roman formula named Justitia, the dispensing of justice. In the original, Marcus Aurelius is seated on a sella curulis and on the sarcophagus it is Pontious Pilate in the role of Roman governor who sits on the sella curulis.
One final comparison appears as the god Erotus harvesting grapes and wheat. Images from Roman and Grecian art that convey the sense of harvest and seasonal changes. The Christians adopted these images in a third or fourth century C.E. statue. The cherubs are still collecting sheaths of wheat and grapes from the vines. They are shorter and less well-proportioned as Christian images but convey the same harvest scene. I think the continuation of art from the Greco-Roman era into the Christian era is because more art was conserved to be viewed from the Greeks and Romans and a common language was available to describe it. This has provided for a continuation of myths and artistic styles over several centuries.