Signet Ring of Erasmus

Erasmus received this ring, set with an ancient carved gem, as a gift from his student Alexander Stewart, the archbishop of St. Andrews, Scotland. Erasmus believed the figure on the gem to be Terminus, the popular Roman god of boundaries known for his firm opposition to Jupiter, who tried to expel Terminus from the Capitoline Hill in Rome. Intrigued by this model of fortitude (and obstinance), Erasmus took Terminus as his personal emblem. The figure on the gem, however, has now been identified as Dionysus, god of wine.

Unknown maker
Signet Ring of Erasmus of Rotterdam (and modern impression), before 1509
Gold and carnelian (Roman gem, 1st century AD)
Historisches Museum Basel; 1893.365

©Historisches Museum Basel, Peter Portner