BRONZE. Height, 46 7/25 inches.
HIS wonderful tripod was found in a votive chapel at Herculaneum. The gracefully-formed corbel is supported by three exquisitely-finished figures: satyrs with their members erect. They are resting their right hands on their hips, and closing their middle fingers in token of silence. They stretch forward their left hands, as if to keep off the profane, who must not take part in the sacrifice. Their tails are gracefully entwined round the central ring.
The elegance and perfection of this bronze place it among the most precious treasures of this mine of antiquities. It would be difficult to say to which divinity it is consecrated; for the phalluses, the object of which was to drive away earthly impurities, and to keep off evil spirits in the solemn performance of a sacrifice, occur indiscriminately in the temples of Jupiter, Apollo, Mercury, Bacchus, Priapus, Venus, &c.
Tripods, the origin of which is lost in the remotest ages, were consecrated in most of the ancient forms of worship. As a rule, those initiated in the mysteries of Delphi, Isis, and Eleusis offered a tripod in token of their devotion.
The ternary number, which recurs everywhere throughout Nature,
physically and morally, played a prominent part in the pagan rites. 1 It embraced the divinities of air, earth, and water, of which Jupiter, Neptune, and Pluto were the lords, and which were indiscriminately called Zeus, the Supreme Divinity. The Muses numbered three times three: there were three Graces, three Furies, three Fates, three Hecates, a Cerberus with three heads, &c.
41:1 As also in Judaism, Buddhism, Brahminism, and Christianity.