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The hand gesture and symbols of Sabazios

Berndt Ersöz, Susanne LU (2018) In Opuscula: Annual of the Swedish Institutes At Athens and Rome 11. p.151-168
Abstract
The material evidence left from the cult of Sabazios is meagre, apart from sculpted bronze hands dating to the Roman Empire. The hand is held in a certain pose, the so-called benedictio Latina gesture, and the hand was often covered with depictions of various objects and symbols. The bronze hands were probably attached to staffs and carried around in processions. This practice most likely spread via the channels of the Roman army during the Early Imperial period, but the gesture existed much earlier. The gesture is found on Attic black- and red-figured pottery, and is frequently associated with Hermes in his role as instructor and Psychopompos. From the beginning of the Hellenistic period the gesture was mainly used as an indication of... (More)
The material evidence left from the cult of Sabazios is meagre, apart from sculpted bronze hands dating to the Roman Empire. The hand is held in a certain pose, the so-called benedictio Latina gesture, and the hand was often covered with depictions of various objects and symbols. The bronze hands were probably attached to staffs and carried around in processions. This practice most likely spread via the channels of the Roman army during the Early Imperial period, but the gesture existed much earlier. The gesture is found on Attic black- and red-figured pottery, and is frequently associated with Hermes in his role as instructor and Psychopompos. From the beginning of the Hellenistic period the gesture was mainly used as an indication of speech, and for knowledge transmitted through speech. There are several examples of how the gesture was used to indicate the knowledge revealed through the initiations of mystery cults. Hermes is closely associated with Sabazios and is represented on the bronze hands, probably because of his role as instructor and Psychopompos; i.e. the position played by the mystagogue in the Sabazian mysteries. The gesture of the hands simply denoted the knowledge acquired through the initiation. The symbols on the hands are often associated with the Underworld, and it is suggested that knowledge acquired in the Sabazian mysteries dealt with life after death and the Underworld. (Less)
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author
organization
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type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
in
Opuscula: Annual of the Swedish Institutes At Athens and Rome
volume
11
pages
18 pages
publisher
Editorial Committee of the Swedish Institutes at Athens and Rome
ISSN
2000-0898
DOI
10.30549/opathrom-11-08
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
c79e0ba0-9d6a-4ba6-942c-07f3c43ad31f
date added to LUP
2019-01-10 19:55:38
date last changed
2019-01-16 11:59:10
@article{c79e0ba0-9d6a-4ba6-942c-07f3c43ad31f,
  abstract     = {The material evidence left from the cult of Sabazios is meagre, apart from sculpted bronze hands dating to the Roman Empire. The hand is held in a certain pose, the so-called benedictio Latina gesture, and the hand was often covered with depictions of various objects and symbols. The bronze hands were probably attached to staffs and carried around in processions. This practice most likely spread via the channels of the Roman army during the Early Imperial period, but the gesture existed much earlier. The gesture is found on Attic black- and red-figured pottery, and is frequently associated with Hermes in his role as instructor and Psychopompos. From the beginning of the Hellenistic period the gesture was mainly used as an indication of speech, and for knowledge transmitted through speech. There are several examples of how the gesture was used to indicate the knowledge revealed through the initiations of mystery cults. Hermes is closely associated with Sabazios and is represented on the bronze hands, probably because of his role as instructor and Psychopompos; i.e. the position played by the mystagogue in the Sabazian mysteries. The gesture of the hands simply denoted the knowledge acquired through the initiation. The symbols on the hands are often associated with the Underworld, and it is suggested that knowledge acquired in the Sabazian mysteries dealt with life after death and the Underworld.},
  author       = {Berndt Ersöz, Susanne},
  issn         = {2000-0898},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {151--168},
  publisher    = {Editorial Committee of the Swedish Institutes at Athens and Rome},
  series       = {Opuscula: Annual of the Swedish Institutes At Athens and Rome},
  title        = {The hand gesture and symbols of Sabazios},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.30549/opathrom-11-08},
  volume       = {11},
  year         = {2018},
}