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Head of the Young Bacchus
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Unknown
Roman, A.D. 1 - 50
Bronze and silver
8 1/2 in.
96.AB.52

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Dionysos, the god of wine, wears an ivy wreath hung with leaves and berries. This head is all that survives of what was once a life-size bronze statue of the god. The silvered whites of the eyes originally held inlaid irises. The dreamy, slightly unfocused gaze, as well as the slightly parted lips, conveys sensuousness and sexual ambivalence, characteristics frequently found in depictions of the god.

This portrayal derives from Hellenistic Greek art, in which the depiction of the god underwent a radical change. Before the Hellenistic period, the Greeks usually portrayed Dionysos as a mature bearded man. In Hellenistic and Roman art, Dionysos is a beardless youth, similar to images of the god Apollo, which sometimes makes it difficult to distinguish between the two gods. On this head, the ivy wreath identifies the god as Dionysos.