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  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: May 2011
  • First published in: 1909



When the fetish-types of the iconic and semi-iconic period of religious art were being abandoned, and the anthropomorphic form was beginning to emerge clearly, the archaic artist was accustomed to present Dionysos as a grave and bearded god, amply draped, usually erect and tranquil or in quiet movement–except in the rare representations of his battle with the giants–and only distinguished from the other high divinities by thyrsos, ivy-crown, cup, or vine-spray, or often by a freer treatment of the hair. But here and there the consciousness that in character, form, and action; he was different from the others, appears to glimmer through the stiff conventions of the early art of design and modelling. The sculptor of the chest of Kypselos distinguished the deity of nature by his picturesque environment, the divine giver of the wine-feast by his recumbent posture, and remembered that he haunted the wilds and the cool solitude of the cavern rather than the cities of men. The engraver of that very early coin of unknown provenance, mentioned above, seems to have had in mind–as few probably of his contemporaries had–the semi-barbaric character of the god derived from a barbaric origin, and therefore ventured to give him a coarse and almost brutal type of features [Coin P1. 20].