9) The Triptych: Arian and Dionysus


The Triptych: Arian and Dionysus. Copyright Eric Itschert.

The Greek iconography is entirely coded. This painting represents the wedding of Dionysus with Arian.

Arian wears a crown, a “code” for the marriage; she veils her visage, a “code” meaning that she will join the god in his domain.

Dionysus is naked: he will reveal himself to her in the passion of love. The position of his right hand on his face is a “code” meaning that he is drunk. On his left hand he holds a thyrsus terminating with a pine cone (both symbols relate to the god. Actually the pine, the vineyard, the ivy and their fruits are the main plantations symbolising Dionysus. The pine refers to his resurrection: you should note that its fruits are hidden within the pine cone) and he wears a yellow ribbon. One of his feet is next to a tambourine (see dithyramb) and he is represented with a panther (animal usually associated with the god). The panther is a warning that wine should be drunk very carefully otherwise it might change us in very dangerous animals…