The J. Paul Getty Museum

Engraved gem set in a modern ring

Object Details


Engraved gem set in a modern ring






Roman Empire (Place Created)


1st century A.D.


Gem: cornelian; ring: gold

Object Number:



1.4 cm (9/16 in.)

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Object Description

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.

- after mid 19th century

Rosarena Collection, Mexican, Mexican

after mid 19th century - 1900

Constantine Alexander Ionides, Greek, 1833 - 1900 (London, England), [collection no. 74] by inheritance to his son, Alexander Constantine Ionides, 1900.

1900 - 1931

Alexander Constantine Ionides, Greek, 1862 - 1931 (London, England), by inheritance to his heirs, 1931.

1931 -

Heirs of Alexander Constantine Ionides, Greek, 1862 - 1931

by 1968 -

Lady Adam Gordon , great grand-daughter of Alexander Constantine Ionides (London, England)

- 2001

Mrs. Diana Scarisbrick, born 1928, sold through Oliver Forge (London, England) to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 2001.

Rome on the Grand Tour (January 8 to August 11, 2002)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), January 8 to August 11, 2002

Boardman, John. Engraved Gems. The Ionides Collection (London: 1968), pp. 32-33 and 97, no. 44, ill.

Canciani, Fulvio. "Aineias." In Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae V (1981), pp. 381-396, p. 388, no. 102.