The central decorative medallion, or emblema, on this bowl is indicative of a class of luxury goods from the Late Republican and Early Imperial Period that were made purely for display rather than functionality. Such bowls were physical and intentional symbols of status, in a period when ostentation and conspicuous consumption was, as Lightfoot describes, "both condemned and eagerly pursued (p. 56 in Milleker, ed., The Year One, Art of the Ancient World East and West)."
According to Strong, (Greek and Roman Gold and Silver Plate, pp. 151-152), these show-plates, or dishes and bowls with figural relief medallions, "were often made in pairs with related subjects." He notes, for example, dishes from the Hildesheim Treasure with medallions of Attys and Cybele or the pair from the Boscoreale Treasure with busts of a husband and wife.