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Dionysus Portrayals over time. Return of Hephaistus to Olympus, detail from a Caeretan black figure hydria c.6th century BC

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Presentation on theme: "Dionysus Portrayals over time. Return of Hephaistus to Olympus, detail from a Caeretan black figure hydria c.6th century BC"— Presentation transcript:

1 Dionysus Portrayals over time

2 Return of Hephaistus to Olympus, detail from a Caeretan black figure hydria c.6th century BC

3 The three faces of Dionysus For ancient peoples, Dionysus had 3 main aspects: comedic/ entertaining/ revelling dark and dangerous associated with reincarnation/ rebirth/ renewal

4 The entertainer God of wine, theatre Honoured with poured offering and hymns at start of Greek drinking parties/ symposia Featured in amusing myths and could be figure of fun, e.g. o Common vase painting 500s BC = Dionysus leading drunken Hephaistus back to Olympus on donkey o Aristophanes' Frogs, 400s BC - cowardly Dionysus visits Underworld dressed as Herakles, craps himself on stage out of fear!! Depicted often surrounded by ithyphallic satyrs and maenads, images of revelry

5 Marble of Hermes with the baby Dionysus, late 4th century BC, possibly by Praxiteles. In reconstructions, Hermes teases Dionysus with a bunch of grapes.

6 Not to be messed with... Although you could get away with poking fun of him onstage, he was extremely dangerous when crossed Greeks feared the loss of control that came with drunkenness, saw it as dangerous Dionysus took terrible vengeance in myth, sending people mad: o Pentheus and Agave: they were Dionysus' cousin and aunt - they refused to believe he was a god - Dionysus made Pentheus go mad and dress up as a woman to spy on his mother's Bacchic rites. He then made Agave mad so that she believed her son, Pntheus, was a lion and she ripped him apart with her bare hands Women engaged in Bacchic rites seen as fearful, with power to rip apart live animals

7 Daeth of Pentheus, fresco from exedra, House of the Vetii, Pompeii, AD

8 The twice-born god Associated with death and rebirth Vines die off and then grow back o According to myth, Dionysus was son of Zeus and a mortal woman, Semele o Hera tricked Semele into demanding Zeus reveal himself in his true form, which killed the pregnant girl o Zeus had the dying baby Dionysus cut from her and sewn into his thigh o Dionysus was then reborn from Zeus' thigh as a god The Dionysiac Mysteries promised the worshippers a better afterlife Because of his association with dying and being reborn and his converts being given a better afterlife, the early Christians borrowed Dionysiac imagery for their churches - you will still today see grapes and vines in churches

9 The fostering of Dionysus, white ground lekythos, the Phiale Painter, c440BC

10 Depictions in Greece Some constant features: Ivy, serpents and grapes all = symbols of rebirth often accompanied by maenads/satyrs carrying kylix (Greek drinking cup), head wreathed w grapes Carrying thyrsos - staff topped w pinecone and wound w ivy Clothed in exotic robes Often rode a chariot towed by panthers/leopards Clothed in animal skin/ leopard skin Changing features: Early depictions on vases 500sBC = muscled, bearded god, similar to Zeus and Poseidon Over time became effeminate, often naked youth, to emphasise association with foreign cultures/ women/ uncivilised things

11 Greek painting Ancient Greeks did create wall paintings - using a technique called fresco, where the artist painted onto wet plaster. however, thsi flakes away over time and so very few Greek frescoes have survived. Our best evidence for Greek painting comes from vases. It is believed that vase painters followed the style of fresco painters, though with a much more limited colour range.

12 Earliest known depiction of Dionysus Black-figure dinos by Sophilos, around 580 BCE

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14 Group E Painter (attributed to), Dionysos and satyrs, about 540 B.C. Black-figure amphora, h.43 cm musagora/dionysos/diony sosen/rgre1.htm

15 Circle of the Antimenes painter-'Dionysus and his thiasus'- attic-(black-figure)-krater psykter-( BC) greek-vases.html

16 Dionysus and satyr, tondo of Attic red figure kylix, by Makron, BC

17 Dionysus, Attic red- figure hydra, attributed to the Class of Brussels, BC ml

18 Dionysus riding panther, Paestan red figure, the Louvre Painter, BC

19 Dionysus, 2nd century AD Roman marble copy of a Hellenistic sculpture (3rd to 1st centuries BC) _Ma87_n2.jpg

20 The Roman Bacchus Worship of Dionysus/ Bacchus was introduced to Rome around 200BC Women celebrated the Bacchanalia in the forest 5 times a month These rites became notorious - the Senators feared what women would get up to alone - and so they were banned except of the Senate gave special permission People continued to celebrate them anyway

21 Dionysus/ Bacchus in Roman art Romans often commissioned copies of famous Greek sculptures or paintings to display in their homes Bacchus continued to be portrayed as the god of wine and entertainment His iconography remained much the same, though he became perhaps even more effeminate and youthful Many Romans took part in the Dionysiac Mysteries, a cult that promised a better afterlife to its initiates

22 Fresco of Dionysus reclining across the knee of a goddess, probably Ariadne. A section from the Villa of the Mysteries, Pompeii, 60-79AD. Part of a large fresco showing an initiation into the Dionysiac Mysteries https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Villa_dei_Misteri_VI_-_2.jpg

23 For Romans, worship of Dionysus meant the hope of a better afterlife, so he was a popular subject on sacrophagi Dionysus' rescue of Ariadne, after she was abandoned to die by Theseus, may represent the departure of the soul after death to eternal life It was a popular theme on early Christian sarcophagi

24 Bacchus and Mt Vesuvius, lararium of the House of the Centenary, Pompeii, 60-79AD Bacchus carries a thyrsos and a panther lies at his feet. He is clothed in grapes. The slopes of Vesuvius were once rich in grape vines.

25 Bacchus and pan, bronze with silver eyes, 2nd centur y AD Roman ges/mcmanus_ima ges/gods_bacchus _pan.htm

26 Roman marble sarcophagus featuring Bacchus and the seasons, c AD,

27 Dionysus/ Bacchus in the Renaissance Fashionable to show off knowledge of antiquity in Renaissance The wealthy (even popes!!) commissioned hundreds of sculptures and paintings with classical themes/subjects, as well as collecting unearthed ancient artworks Dionysus was a popular theme because artists could have a lot of fun with him, but at the same time allusions could be made to Christian ideals such as life after death/ the immortality of the soul/ Christ's resurrection

28 Michaelangelo' s Bacchus, 1496 The god here is less idealised than in the Classical period. He is a bit flabby and appears drunk https://pantherfile.uwm.edu/prec/www/cour se/mythology/0700/912.jpg

29 Bacchus and Ariadne by Titian, %20London/London/National%20Gallery%20Top%2020/slides/London%20National%20Gallery%20Top%2020%2009%20Ti tian%20-%20Bacchus%20and%20Ariadne.html %20London/London/National%20Gallery%20Top%2020/slides/London%20National%20Gallery%20Top%2020%2009%20Ti tian%20-%20Bacchus%20and%20Ariadne.html

30 Art history video on this painting https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/art-history/art-history end-of-the-renaissance-and-the-reformation/venice- 1/v/titian--bacchus-and-ariadne

31 Bacchus by Caravaggio, 1595 Bacchus offers the viewer a wine. Classical iconography is obvious in the grape wreath and youthful, slightly effeminate appearance. ravaggio)


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