A similar sarcophagus, also from Cerveteri and often called the Sarcophagus of the Spouses, is in the Louvre in Paris (Cp 5194). Other Etruscan sarcophagus covers show couples, but these are the best known.



Etruscan culture practiced cremation, so the tomb housed ashes rather than body remains. Unlike in the Greek world, where banquets were reserved for men, the Etruscan woman, who held an important place in society, is represented here at her husband's side, in the same proportions and in a similar pose. They are both smiling and expressing affection, which contrasts Greek art. Because this is a funerary piece, it could mean a positive attitude towards life and death. She is in the process of pouring perfume into his hand, she is making the gesture of offering perfume, another essential component of funerary ritual. In her left hand, she is holding a small, round object, possibly a pomegranate, a symbol of immortality.



The smiling faces with their almond-shaped eyes and long, braided hair, as well as the shape of the feet of the bed, reveal Greek influence. However, the marked contrast between the high-relief busts and the very flattened legs is typically Etruscan. "The Etruscan artist's interest focused on the upper half of the figures, especially on the vibrant faces and gesticulating arms."