©1977 Photo by the Metropolitan Museum of Art/Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan 1917 (17.190.396 and 17.190.399)

David confronts the well-armed Goliath wearing only a simple tunic and carrying a sling, as shown in the center of this Byzantine silver plate. In the lower register of the plate, David cuts off the head of Goliath as the giant falls to the ground.

Although King Saul carefully dressed David in full armor, as shown on a second ceremonial plate (see second ceremonial plate and the cover of this issue), David spurned Saul’s gear as too confining. By rejecting Saul’s offer, David refused to put himself in Saul’s debt. He also established that he will not accept Saul’s armor as a gift but will earn it—along with the strength and power it symbolizes—garment by garment.

Both dishes are part of a set of nine solid-silver plates discovered in 1902 in northern Cyprus. All nine depict scenes from the life of David and may have been commissioned by the warrior-emperor Heraclius (610–641) to commemorate his beheading of the Persian general Razatis.