Dionysos (Roman name: Bacchus) was the ancient Greek god of wine, merriment, and theatre. Being the bad boy of Mt. Olympus, he was perhaps the most colourful of the Olympian Gods. In Greek mythology, despite being the son of Zeus and Semele (the daughter of Kadmos and Harmonia), Dionysos did not receive the best start in life when his mother died while... [continue reading]
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Carved and guilded wood representation of Bacchus (ca. 1677 CE). Attributed to Filippo Parodi. (Museo Castello Sforzesco, Milan)
Trustees of the British Museum
published on 20 March 2013
A red-figure bell-krater from Paestum 360-340 BCE. In a scene from Greek comedy, Dionysos is depicted with a comic actor balancing a basket on his head. The actor is in typical costume - padded stomach, added phallus and bearded mask.
Silver didrachm from Corcyra (Corfu), 229-48 BCE. O: Head of Dionysus. R: Pegasus.
A detail of a mosaic flooring from a Roman Villa, Corinth, circa 2nd century BCE (Corinth Archaeological Museum)
published on 25 October 2012
The god Dionysos from the east pediment of the Parthenon (447-432 BCE). The reclining posture makes good use of the limited space of the angled pediment end. (British Museum, London).
A bronze statue of the god of wine Dionysos (Greek name) / Bacchus (Roman name), early 2nd century CE. His head is crowned with vine leaves and fruit. The eyes are from limestone, the pupils would have probably been in coloured glass paste and the lips are in copper. The statue was made using the lost-wax technique. (Palazzo Massimo, Rome).
Greek mythology, as in other ancient cultures, was used as a means to explain the environment in which humankind lived, the natural phenomena they witnessed and the passing of time through the days, months, and seasons. Myths were also intricately connected to religion in the Greek world and explained the origin and lives of the gods, where humanity... [continue reading]
The Greek poet Hesiod (c. 700 BCE) is most famous for his works Theogony and Works and Days. In this passage from Theogony, Hesiod relates the birth of the gods from cosmic Chaos and follows the lineage through the great Zeus, King of the Olympian gods, worshipped by Hesiod’s contemporaries: (ll. 1-25) From the Heliconian Muses let us begin... [continue reading]
Greek red figure stemless cup from Apula, 330-320 BCE, depicting a dancing maenad - female follower of Dionysus - holding a bell and tambourine. (Archaeological Museum, Milan)