Dionysus-Bacchus. Un Dios para los humanos (A God for Humans)

June – December 2019

Dionysus-Bacchus. Un Dios para los humanos (A God for Humans)

Museo Nacional de Arte Romano (National Museum of Roman Art)

The Greek god Dionysus, or Bacchus for the Romans, is closely tied to the world of theatre. A number of theatrical productions ranging from different tragedies to comedies, mostly, involve this god which was the paradigm of pleasure and hedonism for humans. Therefore, this mythical figure has been chosen as the common thread for the 2019 Festival temporary exhibit at the National Museum of Roman Art, which sponsors the Mérida International Classical Theatre Festival, featuring its own works of art as well as others from the permanent collection at the National Archaeological Museum in Madrid, an institution which is participating for the first time ever.

Several pieces of ancient Greek pottery from Attica with Dionysus decorative themes begin the exhibit discourse and this is not by chance as they were the pieces used for banquets and symposiums. They are all unique objects dating back to the 5th and 4th centuries B.C. when humans venerated Dionysus publicly and privately.

Also very much present is the theatre world itself in the relief featuring dancing maenads originally found in Mérida’s theatre which reflects one of the orgiastic entourages and dances which would accompany Bacchus in Roman society. There are domestic, funerary and sumptuary pieces from the local collection with Bacchus motifs showing all his different vital passages. The mosaic of Bacchus and Ariadne, reflecting their amorous encounter on the island of Naxos, is a domestic piece dating back to the end of the 4th century A.D. representing the culmination of pagan cycles in view of a new Christian world.

Paintings from the luxurious Roman home Casa del Mitreo with Bacchic themes and cycles show how this symbol was used in domestic atmospheres dedicated to the pleasure of encounters and banquets. One of the best and most unique on the Iberian Peninsula, this set of paintings is being presented for the first time ever.

Dionysus – Bacchus will accompany visitors and, with eloquent images of our collections, will reveal new views of that mythological universe from the classical world.

Dr Trinidad Nogales. Exhibit Curator. Director of MNAR.


July and August 2019


Sede del Festival, c/ Santa Julia, 5

“Extra” is a term used in the theatrical world to refer to the people who participate in a performance without needing to do any basic dramatic action but rather just accompany the different characters or provide the necessary human elements for the scene in order to complement the idea the author or director wishes to transmit.

With Greco-Latin themed shows, and even more so with those offered in Mérida, where there is a larger stage than is otherwise normal, extras are essential for interpreting armies, courtiers, slaves and the people.

This exhibit pays homage to all local extras, whether habitual or temporary residents, who have contributed their work, time and dedication to staging theatre or opera shows for what is considered one of the most important festivals in the world.