The Etruscans’ pomp, idleness, and golden rings

According to many Greek historiography experts, the Etruscan upper class was committed to living in luxury and parading its wealth; to describe this lifestyle, classical writers used words that have no exact translation in modern language, such as ‘tryphé’ (its meaning somewhere between “voluptuousness” and “magnificence”) and ‘habrotés’ (“refinement”).

Obviously the facts led to stereotypes, which seeped into Virgil’s and Catullus’s works and finally gave shape to the caricature of the Etruscan man as ‘obesus’ – well represented by the famous 3rd-century-BC sarcophagus with the sculpture of an old, corpulent aristocrat on the lid, idly lying with his rings and garland.

While historians and archaeologists have now contradicted part of those generalizations, introducing more articulated and precise information, Etruscan goldsmiths certainly created some wonderful works of art.

Here, we present you a series of beautiful Etruscan gold rings from the 4th-3rd century BC.

Ring from Chiusi (2.4 cm diameter), 4th century BC, British Museum, London

Ring from Cerveteri (1.7 cm diameter), 4th century BC, Villa Giulia Museum, Rome

Ring from Cerveteri (2 cm diameter), 4th century BC, Villa Giulia Museum, Rome

Ring from Cerveteri (2 cm diameter), early 4th century BC, Villa Giulia Museum, Rome

Ring (1.9 cm diameter), early 4th century BC, National Archaeological Museum, Naples

Ring (2.8 cm diameter), ca. 450 BC, British Museum, London

Ring (2.2 cm diameter), 4th century BC, British Museum, London

Ring from Populonia (2.9-cm-long signet), early 4th century BC, National Archaeological Museum, Naples

Ring from Cerveteri (2.9 cm diameter), 4th century BC, Villa Giulia Museum, Rome

Ring from Tarquinia (3.6 cm diameter), second half of the 4th century BC, British Museum, London

Ring (3.4 cm diameter), late 4th century BC, British Museum, London

Ring from Chiusi (3 cm diameter), early 3rd century BC, British Museum, London

Ring (4 cm diameter), second half of the 4th century BC, British Museum, London

Ring from Populonia (3.2 cm diameter), second half of the 4th century BC, British Museum, London

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