The bust depicts Sabazios, naked except for the cape that covers one shoulder only, and holding a pine cone and a branch with a snake as attributes, while an eagle rests on his right shoulder. At the base, Mithras is depicted in the act of killing the bull, along with a krater, a ram’s head, and a piece of bread divided into eight pieces.
Sabazios is a multiform deity, the object of a mysterious and syncretistic cult [cf. Hand of the Cult of Sabazios]. The god, possibly originating from Asia Minor, was known in classical Greece (cited in the Frogs of Aristophanes), while in Rome the first mention is linked to the expulsion of his faithful from Italy in 139 B.C. The snake is the animal most directly linked to the deity, connected to Zeus (symbolised here by the eagle) and Dionysius: according to Orphic tradition, Sabazios-Dionysius was born from the union of Persephone and Zeus, transformed into a snake. The ram, the bread and the krater for wine are possible references to sacrifices and convivial rituals. The image of Mithras is the only known case of association between the two cults, aside from the dedication to Sabazios present in a Mithraeum in Ostia.