This triangular base originally formed part of an elaborate candelabrum, a stand for candles, oil lamps, or incense. The candelabrum probably also included bronze parts, such as animal feet below and a tall, branching column above (inserted into the hole at the top) for the lamps. Stands such as this flanked the entrance to temples, tombs, or princely dwellings. The figures represent dancers, or maenads, the mythic worshippers of Dionysos who participated in ecstatic rituals. One dancer plays an aulus, or double flute, most of which has broken off. The most complete figure holds a circular tambourine and a thyrsus, a staff tipped with a pinecone. Although the style of the figures is derived from Hellenistic Greece, this work was probably made near Rome during the reign of Emperor Augustus.
ID Number: SC 1921:17-1