Ancient Art

Julius Terentius Performing a Sacrifice

A.D. 239

Paint on plaster

107 × 165 × 10.2 cm, 87.54 kg (42 1/8 × 64 15/16 × 4 in., 193 lb.)
Yale-French Excavations at Dura-Europos
Commissioned by the Roman tribune at Dura-Europos, Julius Terentius (depicted and identified here by Latin inscription), this painting mixes Greek, Roman, and Palmyrene elements, perhaps as a gesture of diplomacy. Performing an official sacrifice in front of a military standard, Terentius stands with his men. Although in Roman military attire, these soldiers are Palmyrenes; one of them (Themes, son of Mokimos) is identified in Greek as a priest. The sacrifice, a burning of incense, was an act of worship common in both Near Eastern and Roman sanctuaries. Here it takes place in the presence of divinities, all nimbate. The Tychai of Dura and Palmyra are shown in Hellenistic style incorporating some Near Eastern features. Three male statues of deities enigmatically combine Roman cuirasses and Palmyrene attributes (such as the peaked helmet). Their lack of identifying labels creates ambiguity as to whether they represent Palmyrene gods or deified Roman emperors. This may have been done intentionally, to appeal to viewers of different backgrounds.
Excavated in Dura-Europos, Syria
On view
Syrian, Dura-Europos
Roman (3rd century A.D.)

Excavated by the Yale-French Excavations at Dura-Europos (Temple of Bel, pronaos, north wall), present-day Syria, 1928–37; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.


Susan B. Matheson, Dura-Europos: The Ancient City and the Yale Collection, 1st (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1982), 23, fig. 21.

Pieter B. F. J. Broucke, “Tyche and the Fortune of Cities in the Greek and Roman World,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (1994): 41, no. 32, fig. 23.

“Catalogue of the Exhibition ‘An Obsession with Fortune: Tyche in Greek and Roman Art’,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (1994): 113, no. 32.

Lisa R. Brody and Gail Hoffman, eds., Dura-Europos: Crossroads of Antiquity (Boston: McMullen Museum of Art, 2011), 227, 344, no. 37, pl. 37, fig. 13.9.

Katherine M Kiefer and Susan B. Matheson, Life in an Eastern Province: The Roman Fortress at Dura-Europos, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1982), 6, no. 12.

Handbook of the Collections, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1992), 271, ill.

Jennifer Chi and Sebastian Heath, eds., Edge of Empires: Pagans, Jews, and Christians at Roman Dura-Europos, exh. cat. (New York: Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, 2011), 6, no. 3.

Ann Perkins, The Art of Dura-Europos, 1st ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1973), 43–45, pl. 12, ill.

Lucinda Dirven, The Palmyrenes of Dura-Europos: A Study of Religious Interaction in Roman Syria (Leiden, Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1999), 123, 157, 186, 303–307, pl. 13.

Simon T. James, The Excavations at Dura-Europos,1928 to 1937: Final Report VII, 7 (London: British Museum Press, 2004), xxv, pls. 1, 2 (detail), fig. 18, 20.

Simon T. James, Rome and the Sword: How Warriors and Weapons Shaped Roman Histoy (London: Thames and Hudson, 2011), 135, ill.

Blair Fowlkes-Childs and Michael Seymour, The World Between Empires: Art and Identity in the Ancient Middle East, exh. cat. (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2019), 194–95, no. 137.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.