Bacchus (2007)

One of the two painted bronze statues in the pool of the Getty Villa’s outer peristyle. It’s a reproduction of a statue found at the Villa of the Papyri in Herculaneum.

Known to Greeks as Dionysos, Bacchus was the Roman god of wine and also the patron of theatre and agriculture. Classical statues normally portray deities as youthful men and women with ideal gym-toned bodies. But Bacchus is often a rather flabby middle-aged man. A modern American might view a statue of Bacchus through Puritan eyes, as a cautionary reminder to eat a healthy Mediterranean diet and particularly to avoid drinking and banqueting. But the portrayal more likely reflects the androgyny Greeks and Romans attributed to Bacchus. (The statue clearly shows him as male, but I’ve removed that particular detail from this picture to avoid harming any American children who might see it.) Regardless, he does seem to be enjoying himself.

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