Monday, September 10, 2012

Bacchus in Roman African Mosaics

Bacchus is the God if wine and vegetation in the Roman mythology. He was assimilated to the Greek God of wine Dionysus.

The birth of the god is a mystery. His father, Jupiter sewed him up in his thigh for four month because his mother Semele, the princess of Thebes, was burned to ashes. She was the first Jupiter mistress to ask him to appear in all his god majesty. The burn was caused by Jupiter lighting and thunder when he came before her.

Bacchus was raised by satyrs, man with goat legs and pointed ears. Silenus, the oldest of the satyrs, taught him the secret of cultivating grapes and making wine.
Bacchus was represented as a handsome youth-god, beardless with long hair with wine ivy or vine leaves on the head. Bacchus like riding panthers and tigers. 

Bacchus in Roman African Mosaics   
Since the occupation of the Numidian territories by Caesar in 46BC, the Roman culture started to spread. A new culture emerged, Romano-African culture. Nowadays, Tunisia has the biggest collection of mosaics tableau. These mosaics are the witness of the flourished Roman-African culture.
Bacchus was represented in many tableau that archaeologists have extracted from the ground. It seems that he was assimilated to Shadrapha, the Semitic god that has the same features as Bacchus. ElJem museum shelters the most important tableaux depicting Bacchus and his cycle.
Mosaic depicting Bacchus riding a lion with a satyr and Silenus: Eljem Museum 2nd century

Bacchus surrounded by seasons and centaurs, Acholla (Henchir Botria north of Sfax) 2nd century.