D – The Sack of Corinth, Strabo 8. 6. 23

Πολύβιος δὲ τὰ συμβάντα περὶ τὴν ἅλωσιν ἐν οἴκτου μέρει λέγων προστίθησι καὶ τὴν στρατιωτικὴν ὀλιγωρίαν τὴν περὶ τὰ τῶν τεχνῶν ἔργα καὶ τὰ ἀναθήματα. φησὶ γὰρ ἰδεῖν παρὼν ἐρριμμένους πίνακας ἐπ᾽ ἐδάφους, πεττεύοντας δὲ τοὺς στρατιώτας ἐπὶ τούτων. ὀνομάζει δ᾽ αὐτῶν Ἀριστείδου γραφὴν τοῦ Διονύσου, ἐφ᾽ οὗ τινες εἰρῆσθαί φασι τὸ ‘οὐδὲν πρὸς τὸν Διόνυσον,’ καὶ τὸν Ἡρακλέα τὸν καταπονούμενον τῷ τῆς Δηιανείρας χιτῶνι. τοῦτον μὲν οὖν οὐχ ἑωράκαμεν ἡμεῖς, τὸν δὲ Διόνυσον ἀνακείμενον ἐν τῷ Δημητρείῳ τῷ ἐν Ῥώμῃ κάλλιστον ἔργον ἑωρῶμεν: ἐμπρησθέντος δὲ τοῦ νεὼ συνηφανίσθη καὶ ἡ γραφὴ νεωστί. σχεδὸν δέ τι καὶ τῶν ἄλλων ἀναθημάτων τῶν ἐν Ῥώμῃ τὰ πλεῖστα καὶ ἄριστα ἐντεῦθεν ἀφῖχθαι: τινὰ δὲ καὶ αἱ κύκλῳ τῆς Ῥώμης πόλεις ἔσχον.

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Of all the famous works plundered from Corinth, Strabo picks out two as the most remarkable, “Nothing to Do with Dionysus” and “Heracles tortured in the Robe of Deianira.” As the centaur Nessus kidnaps Heracles’ wife Deianira and carries her across the River Euenus, Heracles shoots the centaur with a poison arrow.  As the centaur is dying, he persuades her to keep the blood mixed with olive oil as an antidote should Heracles ever be unfaithful.  When Heracles falls in love with Iole, Deianira smears the potion on a tunic and sends the slave Lichas to take it to her husband, hoping that it will win her husband back.  As soon as Heracles puts it on, he goes mad and commits suicide by throwing himself into a funeral pyre. Deianira, once she realizes what she has done, takes her life by hanging herself.

The temple of Ceres on the lower slope of the Aventine in Rome was the home for the Dionysus.  The temple was long associated with the headquarters of the plebeian aediles and a center of food distribution to the poor.  It was also home to many works of art. Unfortunately, all of which perished along with a great part of the Circus Maximus in 31 BCE.


Read the author bios of Polybius and Strabo.