Adrian Butler is graduating with a double degree in Art History and English (Film Studies). Born and raised in Colorado, Adrian has had a life-long passion for the visual arts that not only includes art and film, but the performing arts, as well. Past achievements include being chosen to present a research paper at the Chapman University 2017 National Art History Symposium and receiving the University of Colorado Denver UROP Research Grant. Adrian is co-curating the upcoming art exhibit, “Room 186,” for the CU Building atrium space.
After graduation, Adrian plans to apply to graduate programs. In the future, depending on where the path may lead, Adrian envisions a career as a professor or a museum curator. For the 2018 Art History Symposium, Adrian will focus on the dynamics of gender relations as seen in ancient depictions of the god Dionysus and his female followers, known as maenads.
Liberation and Ecstasy, Courtesy of the God Dionysus: The Iconography of Maenads and Gender in the Ancient World
The issue of gender in the ancient Graeco-Roman world has long been debated and scrutinized, with disparate views ranging from issues of female agency to oppressive patriarchy. The figure of the Greek god Dionysus and his retinue of maenads and satyrs is of particular interest to the discussion of gender roles and status within antiquity. However, most scholarship focuses only on one area of the vast historical and iconographical resources available. This limited perspective of Dionysus in relation to gender has produced an incomplete body of analysis that fails to fully illuminate the unique status of women within the ancient religious practice.
My paper rectifies this absence by synthesizing historical and literary records that relate to the god and his followers, along with their representations in art, to develop a more complete analysis of gender relations in the ancient world. By employing this approach, I argue that women were able to gain a level of agency and freedom in an otherwise patriarchal society through the worship of Dionysus. Through focusing on the iconographical evidence of Dionysus in conjunction with other historical resources, a more holistic understanding can be gleaned on the unique circumstances of women and gender relations in the Graeco-Roman world.