Roman Silver Mouse Statuette


A fine Roman mouse statuette cast from silver featuring the animal hunched over with a nut in its forepaws. The mouse has been naturalistically rendered including its pointed nose, round eyes, small ears and curved tail. The mouse sits upon a square base.

Date: Circa 1st-3rd century AD
Provenance: ‘The Ancient Menagerie Collection’ formerly the property of a Cambridgeshire lady, collected since the 1990s and acquired from auctions and dealers throughout Europe and the USA, now ex London collection.
Condition: Fine condition.


SKU: LD-619 Category: Tag:

Mice were a common depiction among the Romans, they were often portrayed nibbling on a small piece of food. This was seen to symbolise protective qualities, and were used to guard areas that contained food. During the war against Troy, Sminthean Apollo was called upon, (Ovid, The Metamorphoses, Book XII). The word sminthean refers to the ancient Creatan word for mouse, a sacred animal to many civilisations across ancient Greece. Mice have also been mentioned in other philosophers’ writings, including Aristotle. Along with literature, there are many mouse depictions featured in Roman artwork. Some are portrayed on statuettes associated with the cult Apollo Smintheus but they were also used to decorate furniture.

For more information about the meanings of animals in Roman art, see our relevant blog post: Animal Symbolism in Roman Art.

Weight 7.5 g
Dimensions W 2.2 x H 1.4 cm



Reference: For a similar item,Christie’s, London, 2nd April 2014, lot 109

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