This marble statue of a ram, dating back to first-century Rome, has many interpretations and served an important purpose in Roman culture. Rams were associated with wealth, because of their rich coats that could be sheared and sold, and strength, because of their horns. These aspects made rams particularly favorable for religious sacrifice in Greco-Roman religion, more expensive sacrifices to honor any deity. Statues, such as this one, could stand in place of a literal sacrifice, serving as an art offering rather than an animal one. Props, such as the palm trunk coming out of the ram’s abdomen, were often used in Greek and Roman statues to hold up parts of a statue that couldn’t stand on their own.
See Statue of a Ram in Gallery 152, and explore the museum’s Roman artworks in the online collections.
Statue of a Ram, early 1st century A.D., with 18th-century restorations probably by Francesco Franzoni. Roman. Anonymous loan.