Voyages on the banks of the Styx at the Abbaye de la Celle


Restored and open to the public, the Abbaye de la Celle receives in the former dormitory and refectory of the XIIIth century, an archaeological exhibition dedicated to Roman funeral rites. The exhibits are mainly from Gallo-Roman sites of the Var, a land inhabited since prehistoric times and which underwent a beautiful development under Roman times, thanks to the culture of the vine and the activity of its ports;“Travel to the shores of the Styx”A manifestation that highlights the human being’s relationship with death and the afterlife and invites us to a descent into mythological hell.

A Greek river that flows into the Gulf of Corinth, the Styx is also in mythology the river that separates the earthly world from the underworld. On its shores wandered the souls that had not been buried. Its waters made anyone invulnerable, such as Achilles who was plunged into it by his mother Thétis. Finally, the oath that the gods made“by the Styx” made the latter irrevocable.

The necropolises of Frejus – Forum Julii –, Cabasse – Matavo – and Cannet-des-Maures – Forum Voconii – have delivered several hundred graves revealing thousands of objects necessary for the survival of the deceased in the afterlife. The tomb was conceived as a dwelling place of eternity. Funerary rites and worship practices under the Roman Empire are restored. The refectory exhibits funeral inscriptions as well as a remarkable green marble funeral urn, discovered in 1620 in Brignoles, an example of ancient craftsmanship.

In the dormitory room, we find ossuary urns, metal and worked bone objects, glass or ceramic tableware, perfume vases, bottles, terracotta objects… This furniture reflects a codified ritual, the offerings placed in graves often under similar but also testify to the past life of the deceased. This collection of objects sublimates their shapes, colours and textures: opacity of the ceramic, transparency of the glass, polish of the stone. The small objects of ornament and toiletries are presented in a more intimate way, the opportunity to see exceptional pieces such as an anthropomorphic penknife dating from the 2nd century as well as an urn-ossuary in sandstone named dating from the 1st century.

In ancient times, death was not an end in itself but a journey. The objects presented in this exhibition were used to accompany the deceased, to pay the obole to Charon, courier of the Styx. These plays are rarely, if ever, shown to the public and allow us to understand the beliefs of the inhabitants who preceded us on the Var territory.

Until 17 September 2018

Voyages on the banks of the Styx

Celle Abbey

Place des Ormeaux

The One

Open Tuesday to Sunday from 10:30 to 12:30 and from 13:30 to 17:30

Free admission

04 98 05 05 05

More information here

Marlène Pegliasco

Graduate of a Master in Art History and living in Toulon, I created the blog Art In Var ( to share with my readers, the rich artistic news of this beautiful department. This passion...

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