Mystery Cults in Visual Representation in Graeco-Roman Antiquity aims to fill a gap in the study of mystery cults in Graeco-Roman Antiquity by focusing on images for investigating their ritual praxis. Nicole Belayche and Francesco Massa have gathered experts on visual language in order to illuminate cultic rituals renowned for both their “mysteries” and their images. This book tackles three interrelated questions. Focusing on the cult of Dionysus, it analyses whether, and how, images are used to depict mystery cults. The relationship between historiography and images of mystery cults is considered with a focus on the Mithraic and Isiac cults. Finally, turning to the cults of Dionysus and the Mother of the Gods, this work shows how depictions of specific cultic objects succeed in expressing mystery cults.
Nicole Belayche is professor emerita at the École Pratique des Hautes Études, PSL (Paris). Her research interests include pagan cults in the Roman Empire and analysis of rituals in the context of interactions, and she has recently co-edited Puissances divines à l’épreuve du comparatisme (2017).
Francesco Massa, Ph.D., is assistant professor at the University of Fribourg. He is specialised in religious interactions in the Roman Empire, and is the author of Tra la vigna e la croce. Dioniso nei discorsi letterari e figurativi cristiani (2014).
"In conclusione, sono molti gli interrogativi e gli stimoli che il volume di Belayche e Massa offre sul linguaggio visuale che ruota intorno ai misteri. Il volume è molto ben curato editorialmente, pochissime le sviste e buono l’apparato iconografico (...). La sfida nel rintracciare testimonianze visuali sui misteri ovviamente prosegue, ma questa raccolta costituisce di certo un utile punto di partenza."
- Margherita Facella, Università di Pisa, Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2021.10.29
List of Illustrations List of Contributors
1 Mystery Cults and Visual Language in Graeco-Roman Antiquity: an Introduction Nicole Belayche and Francesco Massa
part 1: Do Images Depict Mystery Cults, and If So, How?