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Paphos Mosacis 11 – Icarios and Dionysos

August 24, 2013


This panel represents the myth of how mankind learned viticulture (wine making).

Icarios offered the god Dionysus hospitality when he visited Athens and in return learnt how to grow vines and make wine. Before leaving Dionysus issued a warning to hide the wine well or disaster would happen. Icarios did not heed the warning and when returning home offered some shepherds (to the right of the scene) some wine. They quickly became drunk and thinking themselves to have been poisoned killed Icarios. The scene appears to represent the moment shortly before Icarios is killed; the shepherds on the right are quite drunk (the inscription above their head says the first wine drinkers).

Dionysus can be seen to the far left, signified by the bunch of grapes and vine leaves in his hair. It is assumed that the lady opposite him is Akme a nymph who personified culmination and perfection. Akme is drinking wine as well, though she is represented as the complete opposite of the drunken shepherds on the other side of the panel.

Icarios is pictured gesturing towards the left of the scene where the more sober appreciation of wine is taking place. I would interpret from the inclusion of this scene within the household mosaics that it was intended as a sober reminder to guests of the house; wine should be drunk responsible as disaster befalls those who do not respect it.



From → Art

  1. Pete Laberge permalink

    Cool! Thanks! I guess what with their often having to worry about the quality of the water they had, wine and beer was particularly important to them, back then. They used it, I once heard with water to kill germs or whatever there was in the water that might make them ill. Our ancestors were quite clever, eh? No internet, no modern tech, but they made do!

    • That certainly makes sense given that the fermentation process would have killed off bacteria and viruses. I had not heard about them mixing wine with water before and will have a look into that. There are so many impressive achievements of our ancestors, including things that we would be unable to replicate in modern times for example the seven wonders of the world.

      • Pete Laberge permalink

        Well, the source I read, said their wine (that is, old style Roman wine, etc.) was very strongly made, with a high alcohol content, so by diluting it a bit with water: (A) The wine went further. (B) The water was safer to drink. Sadly I do not recall where I read that! I do recall it was several years ago. And you are certainly right: Even with all our high tech, the 7 wonders or even a decent pyramid, is beyond our abilities. But they were smart, they had time, they had slaves, and they had very efficient “Brute Force Tech”! Consider the Roman Aqueducts for instance. Incredibly well designed and built,m some of them still function today. And look at their roads, also. They built things to last forever. And they almost have! ;-}’

        You might be interested in this Youtube site, there are a number of fascinating music videos on the topic of Ancient Rome, Greece and history, there:
        And, this Facebook page may interest:
        If you subscribe/follow, say Pete sent you!

      • That is a great starting point for me to go from. Thank you. I will let you know what references I find. True they did build things to last, we cant even make a phone last a year! Lol. I suppose we have the negative effect of modern life where everything must happen instantaneously and patience seems to be non existent.

        I have just liked the history teachers, has that subscribed me to updates? I am still getting used to using pages as I only started using them in the past few weeks when I set up my own Facebook page. I could not find a place to say who had suggested the sight to me. Let me know where to say hi,

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  1. David Allsop Classics | Paphos Mosaics 11 – Icarios and Dionysos | Greece on WEB
  2. The Paphos Mosaic Series | David Allsop Classics

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