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Caryatids Room
Roman art
Julio-Claudian Period
Late Antiquity
Gaul, Africa and Syria

Dionysus and the Seasons
MR 720
Sully room 17
Dionysus and the Carnival
On this bas-relief in marble,
a bearded Dionysus leads
a procession of Horai,
these four young women personifying the seasons.

 Dionysus and the Carnival

We recognise the allegory of spring, carrying flowers in the fold of her dress, and that of summer, holding sheaves of wheat. The figure representing winter is missing.
Dionysus, called Bacchus by the Romans, is the god of wine and vegetation in Greek mythology. He is commonly depicted on Attic vases with a drinking horn and holding a thyrsus, a staff mounted with a pine cone. He is also shown accompanied by his procession, the thiasus, which gave birth to theatre, made up of maenads, satyrs and sileni, his favourite companions. The Greeks celebrated the violent death and resurrection of Dionysus, who has been identified with some fertility gods of the ancient Near East, including the Babylonian Tammuz and the Egyptian Osiris. AR6
We find here an old satyr
(a silenius), a demon of nature and companion
of Dionysus.
His baldness, his goat ears, his ape-like face and
thick beard enable this identification,
as well as his crown of ivy and corymb.
"Let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day,
not in orgies and drunkenness."
Romans 13:13 (NABR)
Bacchante with Tambourine  RF 3025    Pujet Court   Drunken Silenius     MR 343
Sully room 17

The similarities between the Carnival and festivities
in honor of Dionysus are real

Festivities in honour of Bacchus were the exemplification of an orgy (kômos in Greek). This word appears three times in the Greek Scriptures, always in unfavourable terms. - Romans 13:13; Galatians 5:21; 1 Peter 4:3.
Crouching Komast

Cp 9641

Sully 1er
room 36 showcase 5
Similarities can be found between Bacchanalia and carnival festivals.
The Greeks called the show put on by a company of people carrying sacred phalli and singing lyrical poems komos or entertainment.  
The word kômoïs comes
from Comus, the god of festivity, hence the name komast given to these licentious orgies.
In addition to the overall debauched mood characteristic of
the carnival AR7

These plastic vases
depict komasts,
the joyous figures taking part in the festivities
that formed part of the procession of Dionysus.
One of them is shown holding a hare over his shoulder.


Cult of Dionysus
G 407
Sully 1st floor
room 39 showcase 8
the word itself is a reminder of its pagan origin.
It is said to have come from carrus navalis, ship cart, a vehicle in the shape of a boat mounted on wheels,
used in the processions of Dionysus;

or else to refer to the moment when the ‘carn' (horn) will ‘avale’, i.e. fall. AR8
And the comic figure,
who personifies the fleeting period of festivities and who is finally publicly slaughtered,

Note the sacred phalli,

 symbol of the
virile member.
strongly resembles the old King of the Saturnalia who too was killed at the end of the Bacchanalia. AR9
Despite its ‘ Christianisation ’, the similarities between
the festival of the carnival AR10 and these ancient pagan festivities
in honour of Dionysus are absolutely real. AR11 , AR12
 See also
      Carnaval en tableaux
      Le vrai visage de Carnaval
      Fêtes et traditions occidentales
      Carnaval et dieu gaulois


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