The Dionysus mosaic at Paphos 3

The mosaic image we have been looking at forms part of a sequence of five mythological tales. Reading from the top left, they show Leda, the Dionysus childhood image, Cassiopeia and the Nereids (the full length centre image) the triumph of Dionysus (lower left)  and Apollo and Marsyas (lower right). It has been suggested that four of the five images have a Christian reference. The centre image has not. It depicts Cassiopeia claiming that herself and her daughter Andromeda were far more beautiful than those Nereids (sea nymphs). Poseidon was not pleased, and it did not turn out well for Andromeda.
  Lets have a look at these other panels.
 
 
This is a detail showing Leda. The link between the story of Leda and the swan (and other mythological narratives) and the moment of the Annunciation to the Virgin Mary may sound blasphemous, but the notion of a virgin impregnated by a god in the form of a bird does resonate with the bible narrative.


What is left of this panel shows the Triumph of Dionysus. Dionysus rides in victory parade following his exploits in India. This is a popular image on Roman Sarcophagi. It has been suggested that it can be linked with the entry of Christ into Jerusalem, but this is not entirely convincing.

Marsyas was a satyr who had the temerity to challenge Apollo to a music contest. Needless to say, he lost. Here is about to suffer his punishment - he is to be flayed alive then nailed to a tree. It has been suggested that the Christian reference is to Christ being condemned by Pilate. In my view this is not a strong case; if there is a Christian reference, Christ before Herod might be closer as Herod saw Christ as a rival to his kingship.
  Conclusion? The image of the young Dionysus does chime with the story of the Magi: the others are less convincing. However, it is well worth cosidering the broader context, particularly the religious division and debate in fifth century Cyprus.
    I would recomend this paper for further reading: 'Christians and Pagans in Roman Nea Paphos: Contextualizing the ‘House of Aion’ Mosaic' by John Ladouceur.
It is available on the internet here: https://cloudfront.escholarship.org/dist/prd/content/qt4hb1v94d/qt4hb1v94d.pdf?t=pi3mht&nosplash=c4c5a8d850b81c85a19645568df2671f
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