The beauty, antiquity and importance of the decoration of this sarcophagus (c. 260) make it one of the greatest masterpieces of the genre. In the third century, Christian art was still bound to traditional themes, without any univocal religious characterisation; it included allegorical figures, such as the "kriophoros" shepherd (with a ram on his shoulders), and the woman in prayer, symbols of philanthopy and piety, as well as "philosophers" and "muses" who lend themselves, in portraits, to praising the wisdom of the deceased. Christians gradually appropriated these models, infusing them with new meaning: the "kriophoros" was likened to Christ the "Good Shepherd", "piety" was linked to the prayer of the faithful awaiting Salvation, and the "philosophers" became the initiates of true Christian knowledge. On the "Via Salaria" sarcophagus, the deceased, seated at the sides of the scene, are depicted engaged in an erudite discussion. Whatever their faith, the themes they discuss are those mentioned, represented by the figures - the shepherd and the figure in prayer - at the centre of the relief.