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An Understanding through Images
For the Greek, Dionysos was a very important god: for individuals as well as for the community as a whole. As there are only a few written sources dating from before the 5th Century BC the many images of Dionysos on Greek vases may well offer a genuine approach to the meaning given by the ancient viewer.
This book explores the earliest images followed by those on small vases for private use, on mixing bowls of the symposion, on amphoras, on later drinking cups and on archaic sculptures. It gives an overview of Dionysian iconography of the 5th Century BC as well as an overall interpretation.
The reader will learn why this god of vine and wine, of theatre and ecstasy, was so important for humans and why he played a key role in the life of the polis.
Dionysos war für die Griechen ein Gott von zentraler Bedeutung, sowohl im Leben des Einzelnen wie der Gemeinschaft. Weil vor dem 5. Jahrhundert v.Chr. sehr wenige Schriftzeugnisse existieren, können uns die vielen Darstellungen des Dionysos auf griechischen Vasen am ehesten einen Zugang zu dem vermitteln, was der antike Mensch über ihn dachte.
Analysiert werden zuerst die frühesten Bilder, dann jene auf kleinen individuell gebrauchten Vasen, auf grossen, beim Symposion verwendeten Mischgefässen, auf Amphoren, auf den späteren Trinkschalen und schliesslich in der archaischen Skulptur. Das Buch schliesst mit einem Ausblick auf die Bildgeschichte des Dionysos im 5. Jahrhundert v.Chr. und einer umfassenden Deutung.
Diese Interpretation hilft zu verstehen, warum Dionysos, der Gott der Rebe und des Weins, des Theaters, der Ekstase, für den antiken Menschen so wichtig war und auch im öffentlichen Leben der klassischen Polis eine so grosse Rolle gespielt hat.
An Understanding through Images
Dionysos, with his following of satyrs and women, was a major theme in a big part of the figure painted pottery in 500-300 B.C. Athens. As an original testimonial of their time, the imagery on these vases convey what this god meant to his worshippers. It becomes clear that - contrary to what is usually assumed - he was not only appropriate for wine, wine indulgence, ecstasy and theatre. Rather, he was present in both the public and private sphere on many, both happy and sad, occasions. In addition, the vase painters have emphasized different aspects of Dionysos for their customers inside and outside of Athens, depending on the political and cultural situation.


After a few reflections on our present knowledge of the bacchic mysteries in Archaic and Classical Athens, I turn to the question of the extent to which the imagery of vases may tell us about the existence of mysteries in Athens. I present some examples of black-figure images which we might imagine evoke Dionysiac initiatory rituals by 540 BCE at the latest. I end by bringing into the discussion Apulian images of the fourth century BCE, which may also allude to the bacchic rite.

In: Mystery Cults in Visual Representation in Graeco-Roman Antiquity
In: Dionysos in Classical Athens
In: Dionysos in Classical Athens
In: Dionysos in Classical Athens