Ancient Roman Gold Ring with Nicolo Intaglio of Eros


A Roman gold ring featuring a D-section hoop which broadens towards the shoulders with incised line decoration further enriching the shoulders. The nicolo inset is placed in a gold oval frame. Carefully carved are two dolphins facing right with eros above. The dolphins are depicted with their tails raised and their heads slight bowed. Eros is sat upon one of their backs with his wings splayed out and playing the flute.

Closest UK ring size: N

Date: Circa 1st – 3rd Century AD
Condition: Excellent condition

In stock

SKU: LD-427 Category: Tags: , ,

The imagery of the winged deity Eros, Cupid, riding a dolphin was a popular one, seen within the Greek and Roman artistic repertoire. Eros, as a god of love is associated significantly with the goddess Aphrodite/Venus. She herself is associated with the sea, having emerged from the ocean fully formed. Aphrodite was created when the castrated genitals of the Titan Uranus fell into the sea. She emerged fully formed from the sea foam. The Latin author, Nonnus, writing in the 5th century AD, claims within in his epic poem the ‘Dionysiaca’, that a dolphin carried Aphrodite from the sea to the island of Cyprus.

Other examples of Eros riding a dolphin are well documented. The scene appears on Roman coinage, from Republican and Imperial denominations, as well as being a popular mosaic scene for Roman frescoes. The frolicking, spirited and playful nature of Eros suited perfectly to the mischievous sea mammal.

For more information about the meanings of animals in Roman art, see our relevant blog post: Animal Symbolism in Roman Art.

To find out more about intaglios and Roman gods, please visit our relevant blog posts: Engraved Gemstones in Ancient Rome and Roman Gods in Mythology.

Weight 11.61 g
Dimensions W 2.5 cm



Greek Mythology

Reference: For a similar item,The Metropolitan Museum, item 81.6.69

You may also like…