Frieze representing the story of Bacchus and Tyrrhenian Pirates from The antiqvities of Athens.
Stuart, James, Revett, Nicholas, Reveley, Willey, Woods, Joseph, Cockerell, C. R., Kinnard, W., Donaldson, Thomas Leverton, Jenkins, William, Railton, W. The antiqvities of Athens v. 1 London: Printed by J. Haberkorn, 1762-1830.
Image ID: SIL-39088003519519_0161
Original Caption: Frieze representing the story of Bacchus and Tyrrhenian Pirates. Choragic Monument of Lysicrates, commonly called the Lanthorn of Demosthenes.
Behind every picture, there’s a story. The story behind this image is a tale from the Roman poet, Ovid. In the story, Acoetes, a ship’s pilot and his mates land at the island of Naxos. His shipmates kidnap a sleeping boy from the island. However, Acoetes recognizes that the boy is actually the god Bacchus in disguise. When Bacchus wakes up and asks to be taken back to Naxos, the other sailors at first promise to do so, then go back on their word, and so, Bacchus reveals his true form. All the sailors but Acoetes go mad and jump into the sea where they become dolphins while Acoetes takes Bacchus back to Naxos and becomes a priest of his temple. Later, the poet Hyginus calls the sailors, “pirates of the Tyrrhenian Sea”. The image shows one of the sailors or pirates in mid transformation as he leaps from his human to dolphin form. The frieze comes from the Monument of Lysicrates, a choragic monument. The monument was erected for Lysicrates, a choregos, or leader of a chorus, when his chorus won a Dionysian dramatic contest. Bacchus is the Roman name for Dionysus.