Grand Fresco

      There are many things to see in the Villa of the Mysteries, but what must not be missed are the scenes painted on the walls of this room from which the villa's name was derived. Most agree that this is one of the greatest masterpieces of antiquity. With a Pompeian red background, there are 29 life-size figures painted in chronological order, much like a modern comic strip. Most authorities believe the fresco is a record of a pagan rite of passage or entrance into the cult of Dionysus, god of wine and debauchery. (His Roman name was Bacchus.) The average person in the first century would not be familiar with the secrets (or "mysteries") involved in the initiation ceremony (called Bacchanalia) that was reserved for those who were members of the cult.

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