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Date of Award

12-1998

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Classics

Supervisor

Professor K.M.D. Dunbabin

Abstract

As one of the most popular gods in the Greek and Roman world, Dionysos inspired artists of virtually every medium. This resulted in a rich iconographic tradition that stretches over eleven centuries. Dionysos' continuous popularity in both public and private life, however, cannot be traced in all media. The mosaics of Greece and the coast of Asia Minor are at the present time the only medium in Greece and around the Mediterranean which allows us to trace Dionysiac imagery for over nine centuries. This thesis collects forty-three mosaics from Greece and the coast of Asia Minor, and analyzes their iconography, compositional schemata, and architectural context. By following the long history of Dionysiac mosaics in the Greek world, by examining their iconographic and stylistic characteristics, and by comparing them to similar representations in other media and on mosaics from different regions, we are able to trace the development of the iconography of Dionysos and his followers. But we are also able to address questions which are central to the overall mosaic tradition in Greece, such as for example the role that Greece played in the development of mosaics in. the ancient world, methods and problems of chronology; controversies relating to suggestions of an unbroken Hellenistic tradition that lasted well into the imperial period; influences from developments in the West; and outside cultural influences in the Roman imperial period. Furthermore, the Dionysiac mosaics of Greece and the coast of Asia Minor raise questions which are important for mosaics from all regions of the ancient world, such as the method of transmission of motifs and the tendency of modern scholarship to assign specific non-residential uses for buildings which contain more than one Dionysiac mosaic. Inevitably, some of these issues are very complex and their investigation is hindered by major gaps in our knowledge. It is the intent of this thesis, however, to provide as many answers as possible, through a comprehensive study of the Dionysiac mosaics, which will contribute greatly to our understanding both of Dionysiac iconography and of the overall mosaic tradition in Greece.

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