Dionysos art in 6thC BC

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  1. Image Upload 1
    • c510BC
    • Marble statue of Dionysos
    • Athens
    • Wearing a panther skin so we think Dionysos
    • Found on acropolis
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    • 6th C BC
    • Naxos quarry
    • Colossal Dionysos
    • unfinished - why? Could have been damaged (the head is cracked) or money could have run out, or it was no longer welcome politically?
    • Max height about 35ft
    • cf Athena Promachos (much later) approx 30ft or Olympian Zeus statue
    • Bearded, one arm forward (to hold a thyrsos?)
    • Long chiton

    • Dionysos an important deity on Naxos
    • He was raised there? 
    • A huge votive for a temple?
  3. Image Upload 3
    • 550-500BC
    • RF Amphora Athenian
    • By Psiax from Vulci
    • Dionysos at symposium
  4. Image Upload 4
    • c530BC
    • BF eye cup
    • Exekias
    • Warriors duelling over body
    • Unusual composition
    • This is the one below!!!
    • Why this on the outside? Eyes would be shown to your peers - a joke
    • But the warriors? A topic of conversation for the symposium?
  5. Image Upload 5
    • c530BC
    • Eye-cup
    • Exekias
    • secondary red added
    • Dionysos sailing over the sea

    • Homeric Hymn to DIonysos – changing sailors
    • into dolphins

    D on a ship


    • Triumph of D over mortals who challenge his
    • divinity!

    Bacchae is another ‘resistance myth’

    • But the dolphins have no sign of their
    • original sailor-form.


    • It’s cultic. D arriving by sea. A new
    • beginning to the sailing season, a new crop of wine. Common concepts.


    • D reclines like a symposiast
    • Greek symposia were compared to ships
    • Drunkeness like sailing
    • Illness then like sea-sickness!

    • Then when you’ve finished your drink
    • there’s the god, mirroring your actions – divine representation of the symposiast’s experience

    • Also – he is solitary, none of his maenads
    • or satyrs
  6. Image Upload 6Image Upload 7Image Upload 8
    • c580-70
    • Francois Vse
    • Volute krater
    • Ergotimos and Kleitias
    • Found in Etruria in a tomb
    • First Athenian vase almost entirely decorated with human scenes. 

    • D is prominent on both sides
    • He bears an amphora(iconography is next to it) – usually the satyrs would carry a larger burden and D would carry a little kantharos or something, so slight departure from the usual representation is interesting. It is not gold so not the amphora for Patroklos' ashes. 

    • Going to wedding of Peleus and Thetis. 
    • Procession of gods. 
    • Kheiron there? 

    • Return of Hephaistos on the other side: this is the earliest depiction and D leads the mule (as in Frogs) 
    • Also wine, music, sex (silenoi)
    • Woman/nymph fully-dressed, heavy embroidered peploi
    • Very ithyphallic depticion –even the donkey!
  7. Image Upload 9
    • 540-30 BC
    • BF neck-amphora from Vulci
    • side A: Dionysos and Maenads
    • side B: Athena and Poseidon

    • Maenads. Indisputably. Dressed, have ivy,
    • animal skin, a dead hare, dancing, one is holding a small stag
    • Skin painted in outline, not in white. Only done in Egyptian region - Amasis is not a Greek name so there is speculation.

    • Hares are unusual. Offering to D? She becomes an adoring follower
    • A hare can be a trophy from a hunt or a love gift

    Ivy branch is predecessor to thyrsus

    • Athene and Poseidon: contest over who would
    • be patron deity of Athens? Compared to Oinopion scene by Exekias. Calmness.
    • Athene has been painted white

    • Dionysos is calm on the other side in the
    • face of the dancing maenads.
    • No men. No silens. Likely Maenads.
  8. Image Upload 10
    • 530BC
    • BF Amphora by Exekias
    • Side A:
    • A: (i) Achilles, Penthesilea
    • (ii) Exekias epoiese
    • (iii) Onetorides kalos

    • Side B:
    • ‘Son of the wine god’ – he offers wine but
    • does not pour it

    A mythical model of the wine grower

    • D provides the vine, then has palatable
    • wine presented to him

    • Humans have cared for it and brought it to
    • fruition

    Reciprocal relationship?

    • Wine-drinking god on symposium vessels a
    • role-model for the drinkers there? Sober use of wine and all that? Daily life
    • of male citizens.

    Amasis more real-world

    Exekias more mythical side
  9. Phalloi 

    Fertility symbol

    Apotropaic – averting bad luck/evil
    influence (you find it at crossroads, doorways etc)

    Marking territory and asserting superiority

    Visual assertion of male dominance in

    In a Dionysiac context it has been
    suggested it just symbolizes sexual arousal for its own sake, especially when
    the phalli were magnified and paraded around. Satyrs in a state of arousal –
    due to wine and women?! Physiological result of Dionysiac powers?

    Ancient doctors referred to intercourse as
    ‘the Divine Act’ so Dionysos associated with sexual urges – causing them?
    Obviously Aphrodite was assoc with the actual act, but D to the run-up?

    Embodying high emotion.

    Satyrs = humans reduced to their most basic

    Transcendental? Mythic figures mixed with
    real-world scenes.


    Often we see many satyrs and a single

    The Francois vase has three labeled silenoi

    The women are labeled as nymphs – word had
    a sexual connotation

    Nymphs vs Maenads

    A Maenad has ritual dress, snake or
    thyrsus, never nude

    Nymphs are clothed or nude but have no
    ritual attributes

    Maenads can be shown by themselves - maenads are a term from literature
    Maenadism is temporary - in the play it is involuntary, too. In cult it would have been by choice but no less impermanent. 
    No silens in Bakkhai. 

    NB the chorus devoted to D from a foreign land - they are bakkhai.
  10. Amasis and Exekias were contemporaries in


    NB movement to the left = losing
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Dionysos art in 6thC BC
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