Images of Medieval Art and Architecture

The Treasure of Saint Denis

Cup of the Ptolemys


Félibien's Plates

Adapted from Félibien, Plate VI
Screen Sized version
Larger "archive" version

Adapted from Félibien, Plate VI
Screen Sized version
Larger "archive" version

Modern Photographs

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Here is represented in the grandeur of the original, the most precious vase that is in the treasure of Saint-Denis, and perhaps in any European cabinet. It is made of a single Oriental agate, and has the form of a goblet.. Everything that can be seen carved on it has been cut with infinite care and toil. I leave it to those people knowledgeable about secular antiquities to give their conjectures about the significance of the hieroglyphic figures that can me seen on it. Jean Tristan of Saint-Amant has already given us a ample explanation in is historical Commentaries printed in 1644. I will only say that that author believed that this vase was made by the command of Ptolemy Philadelphe, King of Egypt, and that everything that can be seen represented on it is one of those holidays or sacrifices celebrated in honor of Bacchus, who was so particularly esteemed by the Egyptians that they revered in him alone the diverse attributes of all their gods as if they were inherent in Bacchus himself. The foot of this vase is ornamented with a mounting of enameled gold, and enriched with some precious stones. These two verses can be read on it:

Hoc vas Christe tibi mente dicavit
Terius in Francos regmine Karlus

By this we understand that this precious vase was given in the past to the church of Saint-Denis by a king whose name was Charles III, that is to say either Charles, who was called "the Simple" or the Emperor Charles the Great, who also governed France for some time, or finally Charles the Bald, who is sometimes called Charles III, as can be seen on a charter of this book below among the legal documents.

Félibien, pages 544-5. Translated by Jane Vadnal.



Comparative material.

Other chalices and patens in the Treasure of Saint Denis.

Other items of Regalia


Conway (1915), pp 119-20. Click here for text.

Félibien, page 544-5.

Gaborit-Chopin, PP 38-40.

Louvre, no. 11, pages 83-7.

Montesquiou-Fezensac, I and II, no. 69, III p 56-7, pl XXXIX-XL.

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Last updated by:JV Date: November 29, 2006