In this oil painting from 1595, Caravaggio depicted Bacchus (the Roman name for Dionysus) as a callow adolescent, his head crowned with grape leaves and a glass of wine in hand.

Dionysus, Greek god of wine and revelry, was more than just a 'party god'

Dionysus could bring holy ecstasy to his followers and cruel revenge to his foes. Associated with rebirth, he shaped religious practices across the Mediterranean until the dawn of Christianity.

Fancy a drink?

In this oil painting from 1595, Caravaggio depicted Bacchus (the Roman name for Dionysus) as a callow adolescent, his head crowned with grape leaves and a glass of wine in hand.
Scala, Florence


Dionysus was so much more than just the master of the vine; he was also charged with fertility, fruitfulness, theater, ecstasy, and abandon. Whether called Dionysus (his Greek name) or Bacchus (his Roman one), he is perhaps the strangest of the gods in the vast classical pantheons. Though his pagan-like cults and mysteries may seem to have existed outside the usual Greco-Roman religious and philosophical spheres, archaeological evidence in the 20th century proved that he was a fully realized god.

The son of an immortal god and a mortal princess, Dionysus’ role forged a crucial link between humanity and the divine, serving as a force of cyclical, unbridled nature who drew men and women out of themselves through intoxication. In that sense, Dionysus, a genial but wild and dangerously ravishing intermediary, represents one of the enduring mysteries and paradoxes of life.

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