In the ancient world, the ram was a symbol of
strength, war, and male fertility. They were
popular sacrifices on altars across the
Mediterranean world and beyond. According to
Classical mythology, rams were associated with
the shepherd gods Mercury (Hermes) and Apollo.
Here, in this gorgeous bronze sculpture, the ram
is depicted with a pair of large wine skins draped
across its back much like a saddle. Its thick,
wooly fleece is finely detailed with incised lines
indicating the individual tufts of fur. Its facial
features are also quite intricately detailed,
including the eye and spiraling segmented horns.
The presence of the wine skins may indicate that
this bronze sculpture may have played a role in
the rituals of the cult of the wine god Bacchus.
Such a bronze idol may have served as a
symbolic sacrifice in place of the real thing. We
can picture this sculpture once standing in a
small private household shrine or in an altar in a