This terracotta flask has been molded into the
shape of the head of a youthful Bacchus, the god
of wine known to Greeks as Dionysus. At first he
appears not unlike any other young man: he has
a round face with small eyes, a fairly broad nose,
slightly parted lips, and a rounded chin.
However, it is the fillet he wears around his head
and the wreath of ivy leaves and grape clusters
that alerts us to his true identity. Bacchus, as the
deity presiding over wine and merriment, was
naturally one of the most popular gods in the
Roman pantheon. The fact that he was chosen to
decorate such a flask suggests that the vessel
might have once held wine or perhaps some
other potent distilled drink; although perfumes
or oils are more traditional contents.
A short cylindrical neck with a collared rim with a
small handle rise out of the god’s head. The
head flask form was a remarkably popular
innovation that is perhaps best represented by
glass examples, which were probably influenced
by terracotta predecessors not unlike this piece.
Since the work itself is as valuable as the
substances it once held inside, it is safe to
assume that this flask was a prized possession
of a member of the upper classes of wealthy
merchants who could afford such luxuries.
Today, this ancient vessel remains a treasured
item, prized for its striking beauty and