Dionysos at the British Museum

The British Museum was definitely one of the highlights for me. I mean, it’s the British Museum. Home of the Rosetta Stone, the Sutton Hoo hoard, the Lewis chessmen, the Elgin Marbles (grumble grumble) and a ton of other famous artefacts. I even got to see a special exhibit on Ice Age art, which was incredible.

How could you not be excited walking into this?

How could you not be excited walking into this?

But it really ended up being all about Dionysos for me. I found Him everywhere – mosaics, vases, sculptures, masks…. it was like a sacred treasure hunt. Here are some of the pieces I saw:

Hellenistic mask. Has always been one of my favorites.

Hellenistic mask. Has always been one of my favorites.

Bas-relief of mainadic procession

Bas-relief of mainadic procession

East pediment of the Parthenon

East pediment of the Parthenon

statue

statue

Hermes and Dionysos from the Parthenon Frieze (inset: 3-D model reconstruction)

Hermes and Dionysos from the Parthenon Frieze (inset: 3-D model reconstruction)

Red-figured calyx-krater with the madness of Lycurgus (hovering above the scene: Lyssa, personification of madness) - Apulia, c. 350 BC.

Red-figured calyx-krater with the madness of Lycurgus (hovering above the scene: Lyssa, personification of madness) – Apulia, c. 350 BC.

Red-figure vase, mainad and satyr

Red-figure vase, mainad and satyr

Red-figure vase

Red-figure vase

Black-figured amphora: Dionysos and Ikarios - Athens, c. 540 BCE

Black-figured amphora: Dionysos and Ikarios – Athens, c. 540 BC.

Black-figured amphora: Dionysos and Ikarios - Athens, c. 540 BC.

Black-figured amphora: Dionysos and Ikarios – Athens, c. 540 BC.

Black-figured plate

Black-figured plate

Kyathos (drinking cup)

Kyathos (drinking cup)

Black-figured amphora

Black-figured amphora

Red-figured cup

Red-figured cup

Supposedly Dionysos holding a drinking horn, which for some reason has been cut down

Supposedly Dionysos holding a drinking horn (maybe featuring mainads?), which for some reason has been cut down

I believe this is a faun with the baby Dionysos.

I believe this is a faun with the baby Dionysos.

The Leadenhall Street Mosaic, early Roman Britain: Bacchus riding a tiger

The Leadenhall Street Mosaic, early Roman Britain: Bacchus riding a tiger

Etruscan mirror: Fufluns (Etruscan Dionysos) revelling with Eros and a seilenos, 250-150 BC

Etruscan mirror: Fufluns (Etruscan Dionysos) revelling with Eros and a seilenos, 250-150 BC

Etruscan mirror: Fufluns holding a thyrsos, supported by Eros, with a mainad, 250-150 BC

Etruscan mirror: Fufluns holding a thyrsos, supported by Eros, with a mainad, 250-150 BC

Colossal limestone mask of Dionysos, Cyprus, 100 BC - 100 AD

Colossal limestone mask of Dionysos, Cyprus, 100 BC – 100 AD

The mask above might have been my favorite, just because it is possible it was used in cultus as one of those big mask idols draped in ivy, and because it was BIG. To show you the scale, here I am happily standing beside it:

IMG_0707

~ by Dver on May 8, 2013.

5 Responses to “Dionysos at the British Museum”

  1. Thank you for sharing these Dionysus items from the British Museum. Wish I was there. May Dionysus bless you for sharing his images on vases & statues.

  2. […] posting some great accounts of the places she visited and things she saw there; my favorites are Dionysos at the British Museum, May Morning in Oxford and Glastonbury, though they’re all worth a read) came across […]

  3. I was at the British Museum several times, but never got to spend as much time as I would have preferred there…I didn’t see half of these things. (Though I was looking into certain other things, including in their special collections/on request, that were quite time-consuming.)

    The bas-relief in your second photo above is one of my favorites, though…and, if I am remembering correctly, it comes from Hadrian’s Villa! (Or, at very least, it’s Hadrianic in date.) There was a Dionysian revival (big shock!) during his principate, after all…

    • I spent four hours there and could have done another four easily, but we had so many other things to see in London. But I missed a lot. It’s an amazing place. Wish I’d had time to see the other special exhibit, which was Pompeii and Herculaneum.

      You’re probably right about the bas-relief – it was only later in the day that it occurred to me to photograph the descriptive plates along with the items for later reference, so I have no idea where that’s from. I love it though.

      I did see these giant bas-reliefs, from the wall of something that was related to Hadrian (Villa? I can’t remember), at the Ashmolean – they were impressive.

      • I think you’re right–that’s another thing I never got to see when I was in Oxford for those nine months, and I’ve been kicking myself about it ever since. (Nor the Taylorian Institute’s museum, even though I used their library extensively…)

        Something else that was a bit of a treat in London was the London City Museum, not too far from St. Paul’s. I only went there once, the day I first tried to locate the Walbrook Mithraeum (harder to find than one might realize!).

        There is just so much there, not only in each of those places, but in London overall, much less all of Britain, or even one region or town in it.

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