A superb bronze jug handle from ancient Rome, depicting a satyr and horse. The satyr is portrayed with wild, waving locks of hair and a piercing expression. Originally his eyes would have been inlaid with silver, and traces of the original pigmentation are still visible. The handle itself is decorated with acanthus leaves in low relief. The handle begins with the forepart of a horse, shown as though rearing, though the front hooves are now lost. This is a complex piece with beautiful detailing.
Date: Circa 1st - 2nd Century AD Condition: Fine condition. The artefact displays a beautiful green patina and signs of ageing on the surface.
During the Roman Empire, bronze was the most common compositional material for objects of daily life, which would be created by pouring the melted metal into clay moulds.
In ancient Graeco-Roman mythology and culture, Dionysus/Bacchus was associated with grapes and wine, in connection with which he was also known as a god of extremes: from the giver of sensual pleasures, to more chaotic, destructive passions. As a late arrival to the twelve Olympians, Dionysus was perhaps the most mysterious god in the Classical pantheon. He boasted Silenus and the satyrs amongst his companions, who were creatures of the wild: part man and part beast (their Roman counterparts were the Fauns). Both Silenus and the satyrs were associated with wine-making and drunkenness, and the satyr’s depiction in this example is firmly rooted in its Dionysian context: the celebration of life through wine.
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