Monday, July 9, 2012

Dionyosos in his own theater

Visiting the National Archeological Museum in Athens is quite an experience. Although I knew that most of the Roman statues I love, are copies of Greek originals, it still gives a shock being confronted with the Greek original itself. This specific statue of Dionysos was made in the 1st century AD, as a copy of the original made by Praxiteles, about 325-320 BC. It was found in the Theater of Dionysos in Athens at the slope of the Acropolis. It belongs to the so called 'Dionysos-Sardanapalus' type.

Praxiteles of Athens, was the most renowned of the Attic sculptors of the 4th century BC. He was the first to sculpt the nude female form in a life-size statue, which probably added extremely to his popularity! Or, as someone wrote: "The disillusionment with civic values caused by the Peloponnesian War had turned artistic taste away from the idealism of Phidias's art toward a more humanized, personal view of the world and the gods. Praxiteles brought the gods down to a human level; he made them less majestic but gave them a consummate grace."
While no indubitably attributable sculpture by Praxiteles is extant, numerous copies of his works have survived. Including this statue of Dionysos, made of pentelic marble.

The theater of Dionysos was abandoned after the end of antiquity and was gradually covered by earth during the medieval period. It was brought to light again by excavations conducted between 1862 and 1895. This statue was one of the findings.