The enigma of Ino and Bacchus

Willunga History News

Contributed by Dr. Paddy O’Toole

When visitors enter the Willunga Slate Museum, they are often bemused by the slate relief entitled Ino and Bacchus. The common reaction is “Surely that isn’t slate”. But Ino and Bacchus is indeed carved from slate, and as we trace the delicate lines of the work, we have to wonder at the skill and inspiration that enabled the creation of this beautiful piece from such a demanding material.

 Ino and Bacchus, Mark StaniforthPhotograph courtesy of Mark Staniforth.

In Roman mythology, Bacchus was the child of the god Jupiter and the mortal Semele. Semele was tricked by Juno, Jupiter’s jealous wife, into demanding to see Jupiter in his real form. No mortal could withstand the sight of Jupiter in his godly splendour and Semele perished, as mortals who had congress with the gods tended to do. Ino, Semele’s sister, raised Bacchus as her own after Semele’s untimely death.


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