Hello, my name is Lucian, and I am a volunteer tour guide for the Bridging Binaries tours at the Museum of Classical Archaeology.
This is the faun-skin Dionysus. It is, without a doubt, my favourite in the cast gallery. Dionysus stands, a resting curve to his hip, draped in a fawn skin - the customary ritual garb of his cult. He is androgynous and beautiful, with soft sensual features, and long, gently curling hair, half up in braids, cascading down to his back.
Dionysus is a complex god, whose remits extend far broader than wine and revelry, into chaos, insanity, creativity, frenzy, and bloodlust. His primary cultists were women - known as Maenads - who would don fawn skins to cavort and bother the local wildlife in the mountainsides and forests. Blessed by Dionysus, the Maenads would draw up milk and honey from the earth and ivy, raise wolf cubs as their own children, and tear apart bulls - one of Dionysus’s symbolic animals - and consume their flesh and blood to become one with Dionysus himself.
A few stories explain the hazards of either worshipping - or neglecting to worship - Dionysus when called forth by the god himself. One such is the story of the three daughters of Minyas, to whom Dionysus appears as a woman to persuade them to join the revelry. They refuse his invitation, and in a fit of pique, Dionysus transforms himself into a bull, then a lion, and then a panther, which understandably causes the women psychic damage, and they are driven mad.
While other Olympian gods are seen, in story after story, to desport themselves with mortals, Dionysus encourages carnal revelry at his rites - but never personally partakes. He is an enabler of multi-gendered sexual exploits, entirely from an asexual perspective.
This piece and other sensual, androgynous representations of Dionysus are important because popular culture tends to flatten this deity into a god of partying and wine alone, conflating him with his tutor Silenus, who is normally represented as a ruddy-faced bearded drunkard. This loses the dimensions of Dionysus that hold narratives of brutal femininity, chaotic queerness and hedonistic asexuality.