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Dioniso a Centuripe: iconografia ‘teatrale’ e imagerie dionisiaca in contesto funerario


The purpose of the paper is to bring together and to assess some strands of the funerary imagery elaborated in Centuripe (Sicily) in 3rd-1st centuries B.C., that until recently have been viewed in total isolation from each other. Dionysian themes and motifs have been variously identified in the local polychrome pottery, since the discovery, early in 20th century, of two impressive vases representing Dionysos himself in a relaxed pose; as opposed to the prevailing “bacchic-orphic” explanation, however, from the second half of past century the nuptial theme was considered to be the most important of the Centuripan vase inventory; finally, some scholars have argued that the repertory was not so restricted, admitting even mythical and theatrical characters. Terracotta figurines too, abundantly found in the necropolises of Centuripe, testify the success of subjects like ecstatic dancers and, more rarely, Satyrs, Dionysos, and Dionysos-Maenad groups, beside other themes (draped women and dancers, Aphrodites, Erotes and putti, Medusa disks, etc.). Among the coroplastic artifacts, theatrical masks and figurines have been, however, separated from the others and rather examined in the wake of the impressive corpus of 4th-3th century theatrical terracottas from Lipari; in a similar vein, a “theatrical” key of interpretation has been suggested for some Centuripe vases and, separately, for few figurines. So, neither the “Dionysian” and the alleged “theatrical” vases nor the figurines and masks have been considered as parts of a unitary system. My aim will be, instead, to put in their context such disiecta membra, in order to verify the meaning and the value of Dionysian and theatrical imagery from an internal and all-embracing perspective.