Marble inscribed statue base


On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 168

The base is said to have been found near Rome, but the inscription is in Greek. It records the dedication of a statue in honor of Pompeia Agrippinilla, a priestess, which was erected by fellow members of the Bacchic cult to which she belonged. Listed are more than three-hundred Greek personal names, together with some seventy Roman names; about one-third of the total are those of women. The names seem to represent all levels of society, from senatorial rank to slaves, and are ordered according to status and function in the cult. Their titles give some indication of the size and complexity of an ancient sacred procession. They include a leader (possibly dressed up as Bacchus), priests and priestesses, bearers of images of the god, bearers of mystic baskets, cowherds, torch bearers, a phallos bearer, a flame bearer, an instructor, men and women dressed in skins of newly sacrificed animals, sacred cave guards, and large numbers of followers called Bacchoi and Bacchai.

Marble inscribed statue base, Marble, Roman

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