Bacchus finding Ariadne
Fresco from Pompeii.
Fourth style. 60—79 CE.
Inv. No. 9271.Naples, National Archaeological MuseumPhoto by Egisto Sani

Bacchus finding Ariadne.

Fresco from Pompeii.
Fourth style. 60—79 CE.
Inv. No. 9271.

Naples, National Archaeological Museum
(Napoli, Museo archeologico nazionale)

Pompeii.
Origin:
Pompeii.
Description:
Ariadne abandoned by Theseus in Naxos is rescued from her desolation by the god Dionysus. The god and his followers came on the island and met her, desolate and despairing, as she was sleeping under heavy blankets. He fell in love with her and carried her away to be his bride, giving her a golden diadem that was afterward transformed into a constellation. The fresco fixes the moment in which Dionysos discover the beautiful young woman. Dionysus appears astonished by such a beauty and, as Ovid says, he immediately falls in love with Arianna. A Cupid and Sylenus portrayed with a thyrsus in his right hand are near him while a satyr, intrigued by events, peeps from the rocks immediately above Arianna. Other members of the Dionysian cortege can be glimpsed in the background half-hidden among the elements of the landscape.

Ovid’s summarize her fate in these verses [Met., 8, 169—182]:

Quo postquam geminam tauri iuvenisque figuram
clausit et Actaeo bis pastum sanguine monstrum
tertia sors annis domuit repetita novenis,
utque ope virginea nullis iterata priorum
ianua difficilis filo est inventa relecto,
protinus Aegides rapta Minoide Diam
vela dedit comitemque suam crudelis in illo
litore destituit. Desertae et multa querenti
amplexus et opem Liber tulit, utque perenni
sidere clara foret, sumptam de fronte coronam
inmisit caelo. Tenues volat illa per auras,
dumque volat, gemmae nitidos vertuntur in ignes
consistuntque loco specie remanente coronae,
qui medius Nixique genu est Anguemque tenentis.

“In this labyrinth Minos shut up the monster of the bull-man form and twice he fed him on Athenian blood; but the third tribute, demanded after each nine years, brought the creature’s overthrow. And when, by the virgin Ariadne’s help, the difficult entrance, which no former adventurer had ever reached again, was found by winding up the thread, straightway the son of Aegeus, taking Minos’ daughter, spread his sails for Dia [Naxos]; and on that shore he cruelly abandoned his companion. To her, deserted and bewailing bitterly, Bacchus brought love and help. And, that she might shine among the deathless stars, he sent the crown she wore up to the skies. Through the thin air it flew; and as it flew its gems were changed to gleaming fires and, still keeping the appearance of a crown, it took its place between the Kneeler and the Serpent-holder.” (Translation: Frank Justus Miller, “Ovid — Metamorphoses”).

Credits:
© 2018. Photo: Egisto Sani.
Exhibition: “Ovidio: Loves, Myths & Other Stories”, Scuderie del Quirinale, Rome (17.10.2018 — 20.01.2019).
Text: museum label.
Keywords: ζωγραφικήί pictura ars picturae painting pittura malerei peinture ελληνική μυθολογία mythologia graeca greek mythology mitologia greca griechische mythologie grecque ρωμαϊκή romana roman römische romaine διώνυσος dionysus dioniso dionysos μαινάδα μαινάδες mainades maenas maenades maenad maenads menade menadi mänade mänaden ménade ménades σάτυρος σάτυροι satyros satyroi satur saturus satyr satyrs satiro satiri satyrn satyre satyres σειληνός seilenos silenus sileni selenus papposilenus silenuses sileno papposileni silenos silen papposilen silène papposilène ἔρως έρως eros éros amor cupid amore cupido amour ρωμαϊκές romano romani römisch römisches römischen römischer romain romains romaines ἀριάδνη αριάδνη ariadna ariadne arianna ariane βάκχος bacchus bacco πομπηία pompeii pompeian pompei pompeiano pompeji pompeianischen pompejanischen pompéi pompéien τέταρτο στυλ fourth style iv quarto stile vierte vierter stil quatrième φρεσκογραφία τοιχογραφία νωπογραφία wall fresco frescos frescoes opera parietale murale opere parietali murali affresco affreschi freskomalerei frischmalerei wandmalerei fresko fresken fresque fresques pintura mural finding che trova arianna sleeping addormentata winged alato thyrsus tirso ivy wreath corona di edera necklace collana arm bracelet braccialetto bracciale cloak mantello female hairstyle acconciatura femminile rock roccia rupe awning tenda tettoia inv no 9271