Ring with oval gem with Philoctetes

Late Republican or Early Imperial Period
1st century B.C.–1st century A.D.


Length: 13 x 11.68 mm (1/2 x 7/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Iron, glass paste

Not On View


Jewelry, The Ancient World



Iron ring, possibly gilded, with glass paste with three horizontal stripes imitating agate (green, blue, green). Intaglio. Glass paste set into large, slender circular hoop with oval bezel mounting and thickening shoulders. The hero Philoctetes advances with frontal torso, holding his circular shield up with his right arm at shoulder’s height and looking back. The crest of his helmet is visible as an arc behind his head. A snake, which resembles a curlicue line, is present in the lower right-hand corner of the gem by his foot. The scene probably represents the moment when Philoctetes is wounded by a snake in the sanctuary of Chryse. The paste is unpolished and the surfaces of the ring are slightly worn.


By date unknown: with Bernheimers' Antique Arts, 44 Brattle Street, Cambridge, MA 02138; purchased by MFA from Bernheimers' Antique Arts, April 8, 1964

Credit Line

Theodora Wilbour Fund in memory of Zoë Wilbour