Hand of the cult of Sabazios

Photogallery

Hand of the cult of Sabazios
Hand of the cult of Sabazios
Room XIV. Antiquarium Romanum, bronzes, statues, vases and other furnishings

The right hand, held in the auspicious gesture of the “Latin blessing” and associated with several symbols [cf. Bust of Sabazios], is a liturgical object that would have been fixed onto poles for processions, or destined for sanctuaries or domestic worship. On the hand, it is possible to observe a snake, a pine cone, a small bust of Hermes/Mercury, a ram’s head, a vase and loaf, and a miniscule insect (?), followed below by weighing scales, a tortoise, a frog, the winged caduceus of Mercury, and a lizard. The juxtaposition of Hermes (small bust, caduceus, tortoise) underlines the divine role as “psychopomp” (conductor of souls) of Sabazios, borne by Persephone after the union with Zeus in the form of a snake. The same depiction of the weighing scales could be connected with the divine judgement of the souls of the faithful, that should be “weighed” (psychostasia) before reaching beatitude in the afterlife. The eschatological meaning is further underlined by the other symbols alluding to rebirth and fertility (pine cone), metamorphosis (frog), and regeneration (lizard).