Ancient Roman Gold Ring with Onyx Intaglio of an Ant

Ancient Roman Gold Ring with Onyx Intaglio of an Ant
Circa 3rd century AD

A gold Roman finger ring with elaborate foliage shoulders leading to an inset ellipsoid onyx intaglio decorated with an ant motif.

Despite its rather humble place in the modern imagination, the ancient world respected the ant as a relentless and industrious force of nature. In Homer's Iliad, the contingent of warriors led by Achilles at the siege of Troy was known as 'Myrmidons', whose name refers to 'black ants'. Legend tells us that their ancestor was Myrmidon, king of Phthiotis and a son of Zeus fathered on Eurymedousa, a princess of Phthiotis. Zeus seduced her in the form of an ant and their offspring retained ant-like qualities. Elsewhere, in Ovid's work Metamorphoses the Myrmidons were simple worker ants on the island of Aegina which became depopulated through plague. Because the ants of the island were immune to the disease, Zeus transformed them into a race of humans (the Myrmidons) who were as fierce and hardy as ants, and loyal to their leader.

Measurements: 13.14 g weight, 2.7cm overall, 1.8cm internal diameter, closest UK ring size: A 1/2.

Provenance: Property of a North London gentleman; formerly in a German private collection, Munich.

Lot details
Ancient Roman
Ring with Onyx Intaglio of an Ant
Century/ Timeframe
Circa 3rd century AD
Good Condition, See Photo
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