Dionysian mysteries


The sculptural series featuring two Bacchus figures and a Bacchante is imbued with hedonism typical for the mythological creatures from Ancient Greece’s pantheon; in addition, the images transformed by the artist’s imagination have undertones of lyricism and even mild humour. Both the standing and the sitting Bacchi are overflowing with natural juices so as to physically emanate their feeling of absolute well-being, which comes through in their corpulent naked bodies that belie a proclivity to libation and eating orgies, and in their languishing poses and smiling and serene faces. Each of the three is vested with the ubiquitous attributes of Bacchus such as a grape-vine and a jug of wine. The standing figure has additional adornments such as garlands, flower wreaths, a lamb with curly horns and other allegorical accessories. The Bacchante’s image is more traditional, without the overtone of ironic grotesque that distinguishes the male Bacchi. However, her ample curves, too, betray, not ecstatic inebriation, orgiastic frenzy or euphoria, but soothing languish, and a calmness of natural strength capable of perennial rejuvenation and fruiting. This life-affirming approach brings the sculpture “Dionysian Mysteries” in line with the baroque variations on Bacchanalia themes, so much favoured at that time.

 

Brief annotations to the image

DIONYSIAN MYSTERIES were mysterious religious rites dedicated to the god Dionysus (Bacchus), a junior Olympic God, patron of wine, the productive forces of nature, inspiration and ecstasy. Initially the rites were attended only by women, and at a later period, men were admitted too. Copious libations, ecstatic dance, and music put the participants into a euphoric trance. Later, delirious frenzy degenerated into a revelry of mummers and animal sacrifices were replaced with offerings to the god of fruits. In ancient mythology, Bacchus had a female companion – Bacchante.