A Roman Bronze Patera Handle, ca. 1st - 2nd century CE
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A terrific patera handle terminating in a wolf's head with an elongated muzzle and open mouth, almond-shaped eyes and incised lines above the raised brow bone, the flattened ears and around the collar, all indicating fur. The shaft is decorated with two rows of a semi-circular pattern with faint fluted lines still visible. The base of the handle is flared to attach to the bowl of the patera, with a geometric shape at the base for added decoration.
Background: The wolf was one of the most important symbols in Roman culture, stemming from the Roman foundation myth of Romulus and Remus. A she-wolf rescued and nursed the infant twins Romulus and Remus after they were abandoned in the wild by order of King Amulius of Alba Longa. The twins survived because of the she-wolf and grew up to become the founders of Rome. Thus the wolf become one of the most important and well-recognized symbols of Rome, featured on everything from flags, to coins, to patera handles.
The famous Capitoline Wolf (Lupa Capitolina) is the sculpture of the she-wolf suckling the infants cast in the 12th century AD has become the long-standing symbol of Rome, and is even used today as a symbol of Latin ancestry. Although the statue we know today was created in the Medieval Period, a similar image was known to the ancient Romans; Livy mentions such a statue set at the foot of the Palatine Hill in 295 BC, Cicero mentions a statue as a "sacred object" on the Capitoline Hill in 65 BC, and Pliny the Elder cites one in the Roman Forum during the first century AD.
Condition: Despite a crack to the base of the handle and with minor areas of patina throughout, intact and in very good condition overall. Offered on museum quality custom mount. A superb example!
Dimensions: Length: 5 7/8 inches (14.9 cm)
Provenance: Private Maine collection, acquired in the 1960's and then by descent.