Roman Bronze Applique of the Head of Bacchus with Inlaid Glass Eye

SKU CK.0151
Circa

100 AD to 300 AD

Dimensions

1.875″ (4.8cm) high x 2.25″ (5.7cm) wide

Medium

Bronze

Origin

Mediterranean

Gallery Location

USA


 

The cult of Dionysus was not easily accepted into the Roman religious system at first, creating much consternation during the Bacchanalian scandal of 186 B.C., and matching its legendary initial negative reception among the Greeks, as told in Euripides’ Bacchae. Evidently, the wild and antinomian rites practiced by the devotees of Dionysus concerned the more conservative members of both Greek and Roman society when the god’s cult first was introduced. The Romans called Dionysus by his alternate name, Bacchus, and would ultimately give his cult a place of honor in the Roman pantheon just as the Greeks did. His cult celebrated the god’s role in the creation of wine and theater for humankind, as well as his connection to fertility themes, as witnessed by his association with the god Pan, and his cult may have existed in Greece as far back as the Archaic period.

This magnificent bronze sculpture depicts Bacchus crowned with a grapevine headdress. Such an appliqué would have once adorned a piece of furniture, like made of wood, which has since deteriorated over the centuries, leaving behind only its adornments. A fragment of the original inlaid glass eye still survives, providing a rare glimpse into the original appearance of this piece.

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