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A Bacchanalian Revel before a Term

Photo credit: The National Gallery, London

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In this wild party, men and women dance around a term – a carved bust of a bearded and horned man. This is traditionally identified as Pan, god of woods and fields, flocks and herds, although the statue could also be Priapus, god of gardens and fertility, who wears floral garlands and exposes his genitalia. The grapes and dancing suggest that this is a Bacchic festival, like those held during ancient Roman times to encourage a successful harvest. In art and literature, partygoers at these events enjoy excessive drinking and fulfil their sexual desires, suggested here by the discarded vessels and exposed skin. The nymphs or frolicking female followers of the god Bacchus are accompanied by a lustful satyr, with horns and hairy, goat-like legs.

The National Gallery, London



A Bacchanalian Revel before a Term




Oil on canvas


H 98 x W 142.8 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Bought, 1826

Work type



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Trafalgar Square, London, Greater London WC2N 5DN England

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