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Dionysus - in Latin 'Bacchus' - is the young god of wine. From the Metamorphoses to the Bacchae, Dionysus embodies the social frivolity and unruliness.

The Emperor Hadrian's lover was a young man from Asia Minor, named Antinous. He was so affected by his death (following a boat cruise on the River Nile) that he created a cult of Antinous in 130 CE.

Hadrian also had a great love for Classical Greek sculpture, so instructed a number of sculptures of his partner in the guise of various gods. This particular sculpture depicts 'Antinous as Dionysus'. The Greek wine god is crowned with vines and his characteristic staff (thyrsus).

The inspiration from fifth century BCE Greek sculpture is clear, although the added sense of brooding romance in this sculpture means it could never be mistaken for the work of Pheidias or the other High Classical masters.

This monument now resides in the Vatican City.