Roman Gold Ring with Eros Riding a Dolphin


A beautiful Roman solid gold ring featuring an engraved oval bezel. The ring features a flattened band that flares outwards into two prominent triangular ends, which terminate in an oval bezel. The flared triangular ends are ridged in the centre, adding a further decorative element. The oval bezel features an incised border surrounding a highly decorative scene. It depicts an undulating dolphin, clearly defined by its pointed snout and tail. Upon the dolphin’s back sits a small winged figure, the god of love; Eros (Cupid). He is shown holding a wreath, which he places upon the dolphins head.

Smaller than UK A – internal diameter measures 1.6cm width x 1.1cm height. A small ring, possibly worn on the knuckle.

Date: Circa 3rd - 4th century AD
Provenance: From the late Alison Barker collection, a retired London barrister; from her collection formed early 1960s-1990s.
Condition: Excellent. Bezel scene very clear and precise. A ring of exceptional quality.


SKU: AH-984 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.

Weight 4.62 g
Dimensions W 1.6 cm



Roman Mythology

Reference: For Similar: The British Museum, London, item 1923,0401.1013

You may also like…