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Mosaic – House of Dionysos at Delos

Mosaic - House of Dionysos at Delos by Joy of Museums
Mosaic – House of Dionysus at Delos

This Hellenistic Greek mosaic depicts the god Dionysus as a winged spirit riding on a tiger. Dionysus was the god of wine and theater in ancient Greek religion and myth. Wine played an important role in Greek culture, and the cult of Dionysus was the main religious focus for its consumption.

This mosaic was found in what has been called by the archaeologists, the House of Dionysos at Delos, Greece. This mosaic dated from the late 2nd century BC and was used as an interior floor decoration made of small, flat, roughly square pieces of stone or glass of different colors.

The mosaics of Delos, Greece, are a significant body of ancient Greek mosaic art. Most of the surviving mosaics from Delos, an island in the Cyclades, date from the Hellenistic period. Among Hellenistic Greek archaeological sites, Delos has one of the highest concentrations of surviving mosaic artworks.

Hellenistic Period

The Hellenistic period covers the period of Mediterranean history from the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC to the emergence of the Roman Empire of about 30 BC. The word Hellas is the original word for Greece, from which the phrase Hellenistic was derived.

Dionysus or Dionysos

Dionysus is also spelled as Dionysos in Greece. He is the god of the grape harvest, wine, fertility, ritual madness, religious ecstasy, and theater in ancient Greek religion and myth. He is also known as Bacchus, the name adopted by the Romans.

Wine played an important role in Greek culture, and the cult of Dionysus was the main religious focus surrounding its consumption. Wine and grapes were seen as not only a gift of the god but a symbolic incarnation of him on earth. However, rather than being a god of drunkenness, as he was often stereotyped in the post-Classical era. The religion of Dionysus centered on the correct consumption of wine, which could ease suffering and bring joy, as well as inspire divine madness distinct from drunkenness.

Performance art and drama were also central to his religion, and its festivals were the initial driving force behind the development of theater.

Mosaic – House of Dionysos at Delos

  • Name:            Mosaic – House of Dionysos at Delos
  • Date:              2nd century BC
  • Material:        Marble, ceramic fragments, and pieces of tesserae
  • Museum:       Archaeological Museum of Delos

Quotes about Dionysus

“Young man, two are the forces most precious to humanity. The first is Demeter, the Goddess. She is the Earth, and she sustains humanity with solid food. Next came Dionysus, the son of the virgin, bringing the counterpart to bread: wine and the blessings of life’s flowing juices. His blood, the blood of the grape, lightens the burden of our mortal misery. Though himself a God, it is his blood we pour out to offer thanks to the Gods. And through him, we are blessed.” – Euripides

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“The goal is to live with God like composure on the full rush of energy, like Dionysus riding the leopard, without being torn to pieces.” – Joseph Campbell

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“Every time that a man has, with a pure heart, called upon Osiris, Dionysus, Buddha, the Tao, etc., the Son of God has answered him by sending the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit has acted upon his soul, not by inciting him to abandon his religious tradition, but by bestowing upon him light.”- Simone Weil

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“O Dionysus, Son of God, do you see our sufferings? Do you see your faithful in helpless agony before the oppressor? O Lord, come down from Olympus, shake your golden thyrsus and stifle the murderer’s insolent fury.” – Euripides

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“Faithful earth, unfaithful sea.
– Greek Proverb

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Photo Credit: JOM

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