The triumph of Dionysus (the central part).

The house of Dionysus. Late 2nd century CE.

Paphos, Archaeological Park

A fair number of examples of Dionysiac processions survive from Antiquity. Many of these illustrate the triumphal return of the god from a military expedition to India whence he brought the Indian slaves and panthers we see on this mosaic. The god, seated on a two-wheeled chariot, occupies the centre of the composition. He wears a crown of ivy leaves and holds a thyrsus, a long spear covered with ivy leaves and topped by a pine cone, which was one of the most important attributes of the god and his votaries. Behind him follows a young, tailed Satyr. He is dragging a wineskin, the contents of which he has presumably just emptied in the large crater he is holding, not without some effort, in his left hand. With his left knee he pushes the heavy vessel in an attempt to grip it better. He has, however, been depicted a little too close to Dionysos and his raised leg appears to be resting on the chariot — something that makes no sense since the chariot and the figures are all moving towards the right. (...) In front of the god we see two panthers drawing the chariot. Dionysos found the panthers in India and thenceforth they became one of his most important emblems. The reins of the animals are held by Silenus, the oldest member of Dionysos’ entourage, whose balding grey head is crowned with ivy leaves. He too holds a thyrsus covered with ivy leaves. In front of the chariot we see an animal tamer (?), also dark-skinned but of a different hue from that of the Indians. He is turned half-kneeling to face the panthers, and in his extended right hand he holds towards them a strap-like object.
© 1998 Photo, text: W. A. Daszewski, D. Michaelidis. “Guide to the Paphos Mosaics”. Bank of Cyprus cultural foundation, 1998. P. 24—26.


Keywords: mosaic floor the triumph of Dionysus the house of Dionysus procession triumph Dionysos Dionysus Bacchus Dioniso Bacco Satyr Satyrs Silenus Silenuses chariot crown ivy thyrsus wineskin wine crater wilding wild animal panther reins tamer strap