Engraved gem set into a ring

Unknowngem 1st century; ring modern

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum

Three figures enact the mythological scene on this gem, which depicts the Trojan hero Aeneas fleeing the destruction of Troy. Aeneas, clad in body armor, carries his aged father, Anchises, on his shoulder. The garment of the old man is draped around his waist and over his legs, leaving his torso naked. With his free hand, Aeneas reaches back to grasp the hand of a smaller figure, most likely his son Ascanius, who is clothed in a short garment and wears a pointed Phrygian cap. Between Aeneas' legs, an insect is depicted, very likely a cicada or a cricket. The bug is probably symbolic, but its meaning is unknown.

From Troy, Aeneas sailed westward, eventually reaching Italy, where his descendant, Romulus, founded Rome. The best-known account of Aeneas' exploits and the origin of Rome is the Aeneid, an epic written by the Roman poet Virgil in the first century B.C.

The gold ring into which this gem is set is modern.

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  • Title: Engraved gem set into a ring
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date: gem 1st century; ring modern
  • Location Created: Roman Empire
  • Physical Dimensions: 1.4 cm (9/16 in.)
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Gem: carnelian; Ring: gold
  • Source Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Villa Collection, Malibu, California
  • Object Type: Gem
  • Object Status: Permanent Collection
  • Number: 2001.28.3
  • Display Location: Currently on view at: Getty Villa, Gallery 110, Stories of Trojan War
  • Department: Antiquities
  • Culture: Roman
  • Classification: Jewelry