Sacrifice of a goat at an altar
Augustan Period or Modern
Sculpture in Stone (MFA), no. 236; Sculpture in Stone and Bronze (MFA), p. 112 (additional published references).
Height x length: 28.3 x 61 cm (11 1/8 x 24 in.)
Medium or Technique
Marble, fine-grained white
Not On View
The block is broken at both ends and is preserved in two pieces, fastened together. It has suffered severely from fire; the surface is discolored and crackled, and bits of the figures and of the moldings have flaked off.
The center of this frieze from the interior of a small temple or funerary structure is occupied by the figure of a priestess, in girt chiton and ample himation pulled up as a veil, making a sacrifice at a garlanded rectangular altar.
Part of the body of a woman holding a covered tray is visible at the extreme left. Between, a victimarius with an axe leads a reluctant goat toward the altar. At the right are a woman with a tray of fruits and a camillus or youth with an oinochoe and a phiale (?) in each hand. The top element of the lower moldings forms the groundline.
The scene has been treated in the crisp, careful style of early Roman imperial architectural sculpture on structures of small scale. It is a sacrifice to Dionysos. While considerable late Roman Republican naturalism is used for the two male attendants, the priestess(es) and her female companion(s) are handled in poses and styles borrowed from Neo-Attic art as encouraged in Rome under Augustus.
By 1901: with E. P. Warren (according to Warren's records: Bought in Rome.); purchased by MFA from E. P. Warren, December 1901
Henry Lillie Pierce Fund