Take some time to absorb the incredible myth that precedes this remarkable bronze statue by Jacopo del Duca (after Lysippos): Silenus and young Bacchus (Uffizi Gallery, 1571-1574). Bacchus (Dionysus) was the God of wine and of ecstasy – particularly, religious ecstasy. He was the son of Jupiter (Zeus), the Father of Gods, and son also to Semele, daughter of Cadmus and Harmonia. Semele was no goddess, but a beautiful, mortal woman.
During Semele's pregnancy, Juno (Hera), Jupiter's wife and Mother of Gods, grew jealous of her. She maliciously confronted Semele and suggested her that Jupiter could not actually be whom he claimed he was. As a matter of fact, Gods never showed their true divinity to human beings, for fear humans would be immediately incinerated.
Semele, consumed by doubts, asked Jupiter to make her a promise. Eager to please his lover, Jupiter swore to grant her anything she wanted. She then demanded that he show her all of his godly power. He was forced to do so, unable to defy his promise.
Poor Semele was immediately incinerated. However, Jupiter succeeded in saving Bacchus, who was just a fetus. He stitched the baby inside his thigh (!!!), so that the child could be carried to term. Once "born", baby Bacchus was taken care of and tutored by old satyr Silenus.
Learn more about these incredible stories when touring Florence with me..!