Dio da dio : la maschera di Cristo, Giove Serapide e il mosaico di Santa Pudenziana a Roma

Title: Dio da dio : la maschera di Cristo, Giove Serapide e il mosaico di Santa Pudenziana a Roma
Variant title:
  • Bůh z Boha : Kristova maska, Jupiter Serapis a mozaika v kostele svaté Pudenziany v Římě
Author: Foletti, Ivan
Source document: Convivium. 2015, vol. 2, iss. 1, pp. 61-73
  • ISSN
    2336-3452 (print)
    2336-808X (online)
Type: Article
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The Christ Enthroned in Santa Pudenziana, understood as a visual echo of Imperial images or pagan gods, has always been considered in the context of the decoration of the entire apse mosaic. This study, in contrast, focuses specifically on the face and figure and their resemblance to images of Jupiter Serapis. In the environment of early fifth-century Rome, the similarity cannot be accidental. Archeological investigations have demonstrated that the Serapis image was present all over the city; at the same time, Christian authors viewed Serapis as an incarnation of the devil. This paradox is clarified by considering it in the period after the destruction of the Alexandria Serapeum in 391: a notion then circulating was that Serapis had foreseen his own death in the triumph of Christianity. An extreme interpretation is found in Jerome's words: "Iam et Aegyptius Serapis factus est Christianus". Christ would therefore have adopted the visage of his converted enemy. This reasoning leads to assigning an earlier date to the Santa Pudenziana Christ — between 402 and the Sack of Rome in 410. The apocalyptic aura the mosaic projects is not that of the besieged city, but, on the contrary, is a statement of the eschatological triumph of Christianity.