Entertaining Dionysos

Join the Antiquities Museum and Professor Alastair Blanshard (UQ), Paul Eliadis Chair of Classics and Ancient History, for the last in a series of public lectures exploring the many faces of Dionysos.

It is best to avoid the Gods. They tend to leave tragedy in their wake. This lecture revisits stories about the arrival of Dionysos into communities and the chaos that ensues. It examines what it is about Dionysos that makes him such a difficult god to welcome, but also why it might be worth the effort to do so. It also examines why stories about the travels of Dionysos should prove so popular in antiquity. From the mountains of Spain through to India, Greeks and Romans could point to monuments, institutions, and natural features that were evidence of Dionysos’ one-time presence in their local region. 

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About Dionysos: Portrait of a God

< Past Exhibitions

June 2018 to May 2019

Dionysos is a god of many faces, representing the breadth of human experience. To the ancient Greeks he was the god of wine, of life and of death, and an ecstatic god of the wild, associated with untamed animals and the rejection of the normal way of things. In art, and in myth, Dionysos is accompanied by satyrs, half men, half goats, and maenads, wild women from the east. Dionysos could be masked and was the god of theatre, taking on the appearance of both men and women. He could also be unmasked in ritual, revealed in joy or in fury. Dionysos is a god of opposites, between civilization and wildness, city and country, life and death, man and woman, old and young. But Dionysos also a great equaliser, bringing Greek cities together in worship. At the heart of Dionysiac cult were the mysteries, secret knowledge of life, death and rebirth, known only to initiates.

Dionysos: Portrait of a God explores the many faces of Dionysos in the Classical Greek world through artefacts from the Antiquities Museum and Australian partner institutions. It invites visitors to enter the playful, mysterious and sometimes dark world of Dionysos and come away with a new appreciation for this complicated god, who is much more than just the god of wine.


Curated by Mr James Donaldson, Dr Janette McWilliam, and Ms Rebecca Smith