The association of Black people with enslavement is an entirely modern invention, as in, chattel slavery in the Americas and the routine enslavement of black people in Europe did not exist in Rome. Roman slavery was NOT the same as chattel slavery, and it did not have anything to do with race as we know it today.
This is what I’m talking about when I say that our modern attitudes and colonial-era histories 100% affect the way we view ancient artworks.
American schools teach “slavery then civil rights”, and that’s their “Black History” curricula, for the most part. That’s why I get responses like this. Because it seems like a large number of Americans see any Black person from before 1950 and think “slave”.
Its subject, size, materials, and naturalistic style suggest that this small sculpture was made by one of the nomadic peoples of Western and Central Asia—perhaps the Scythians, who, with the Medes, conquered the Assyrians.
In alchemy, the green lion describes a chemical reaction but also represents a midpoint in a spiritual transformation; it symbolizes a step towards perfection. In mystical terms, it’s a step out of darkness (winter) towards some final transformation.
“I am who was the green and golden lion without cares; within me lie all the mysteries of the philosophers”, from Rosarium Philosophorum (c. 1550).