Houbraken Translated


Volume 3, page 150–159

Page 150

with a tender and youthful face along with the nickname Lusoon Belcher or Lyson Loosener, on account of

too much drinking because by drinking much wine the tongue is loosened. On the inverse are three dancing bacchante or nymphs with intertwined hands [1 and ill. p. 150]. According to the identification by Mister Ludolf Smids and other numismatic experts they would signify the cold, hot and lukewarm water of the famous baths dedicated to Bacchus in the city of Apollonia in Macedonia, on the border of Empire, according to Lucius Ampelius with the inscription Dionisoo Dooron, gift to Bacchus. Thus the commendable draughtsman and etcher Jan de Bisschop shows various

* Ivy, the ivy leaf was dedicated to, or associated with Bacchus, the oak with Jupiter, the laurel with Apollo, the olive with Minerva, the myrtle with Venus, the pine tree with Pan, the poplar with Hercules, and the cypresses to subterranean gods, which serves as a more complete indication of what we said about the altars of the heathens in general and also argued from marble evidential pieces, that they



Wilhem [sic] du Choul (translated by M. Smallegange), Verhandeling van den godtsdienst, legerschikking, krygstucht, en badstoven der oude Romeinen, Amsterdam 1684, p. 143

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portrayals of Bacchus in Rome drawn after the genuine marble statues, which confirm what preceded here.

Finally repeatedly mentioned Ludolf Smids, in the marginal annotation to the Letters of Laodamia to Protesilaus, gives this reason for why Bacchus is depicted with horns on the coinage of the Island of Tenus and why the poets Euripides, Horace and Gaius Valerius Flaccus depict him with horns; Because the wine gives courage and strength and provides drunken people with horns. This is a reason for the god of wine in particular. Lysimachus, one of Alexander’s state followers (because he grasped a wild bull, which was intended for sacrifice and had escaped from the slaughterers, by the horns, held it down and killed it) was shown on the coinage of Calcha in commemoration of that deed.

In the same way one also sees Alexander depicted on some of his coins, but he is aware that transported by a magnanimous disposition, he wanted to be seen as the son of Jupiter Hammon, will not think it strange that he gave his portrait a similar appearance to that of Jupiter (for the Africans honoured a horned image of Jupiter Hammon).

But in general one should know that

were wrapped up or hung with festoons of vegetation. Now the reader will have noticed that it is not all the same with which vegetation one decorates the altars, seeing that the custom of the times paid special attention to that, and priests and sacrificial servants were always wreathed and also the altars hung with such green as belonged to the gods to which they were sacrificing.


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horns served as emblem of royal might and eminence with the Chaldeans, Phoenicians and Hebrews. For by the sea monster with ten horns, about which one read in Daniel Chapter 7, many powerful monarchs, such as Alexander, Seleukus, Lysimachus, Demetrius, Antigonus, Prolomeus etc. are understood, as Willem Goeree has noticed on page 593 of the second volume of his Mosaïze historie. Which is why old field commanders and warriors planted flanking horns of their helmets to give their enemies greater respect and fear.

Today horns planted on the head of a man would have an entirely different meaning.

We have therefore shown the procession of Bacchus as in a scene to inquisitive painting youths so that they may recognize that apparatus and hold to the use of olden days (where many have blundered). It pleases us for the same reason to introduce the celebration of the birthday of the god of wine in its entire elegance, dress, head decoration of the field and garden nymphs, their way of celebrating and how the sweet-toothed satyrs jump about them, as in a painting in living colours, first by the Phoenix pen of Ovid, now by his translator Arnold Hoogvliet in Dutch verses.

See there the penned scene, pleasing, bustling, full of emotions, full of changes and so rich in thought that one could compose various scenes, and where every object pointed out as with the finger: especially where Priapus in an unexpected


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incident, even as Faunus, who intended to creep up on Omphale in the night, of Alcides, who lay sleeping got up in the clothes of Omphale (by which he was cheated) was felled with the blow of a fist and mocked for his blunder.

In Greece was celebrated on the shortest day
The feast of Bacchus,
graced by his ivy-leaved crown:
There came all the gods from forest, field and garden,
And the
field gods from Liceus’ broad crowns.
And everyone who was set on jokes and farce,
The gods of cattle,
satyrs keen on Venus’ delicacies,
And all the nymphs, from the forests and rivers:
dear grandpa Silenus came swaying on his donkey,
And god Priapus, who
scares all the birds
And chases them from garden and above with his red
When this company found a place to its desire,
In the most
spacious place of the forest, to banquet joyfully;
Sat down in the grass and youthful green
Each had made his
own wreath and flower festoon
God Bacchus gave the wine and amidst the lusty toasting
Gave water to
the creek to mix with the scarce wine
The feasting company was at last completed
With river najads, the one neatly decorated and dressed
The other with loose and unkempt hair
This served
since knees and thighs were exposed,
And with gathered dress up to the lap;
And the other with the neck and pale bosom exposed;


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Who had the shoulders altogether bare and unconfined
And one saw one
drag the dress along grass and herbs,
While no belt confined or
oppressed the tender foot.
This group
eventually ignited passion in the hearts
Of the satyrs. But Priapus, the protector of the above
Chose Lotis from the group to extinguish his fire.
He sighed and wished for her alone and in the end made
His flame of love known to her by
cries of love.
contempt and pride appear to be native to beauty
mocks, despises his love and wants neither to see nor hear him,
But at night, when the drink had made the heads
Everyone had finally fallen asleep here and there,
And Lotis, also tired from the
pleasantry, had last of all
Fallen asleep in the shade of a tree.
Then came Priapus (who tread softly on
his toes)
To where the pale nymph lay, and slept, along the lonesome path.
settles by her side without her awakening
In the grass while he avoided the sound of his breath.
He laughed in his fist, and firmly approaches the goal
Of his love and had
already lifted, quietly and sweetly,
Her long dress from her
maidenly feet:
Just when the growling of Silenus
sounded untimely
brays gutturally, through which the young nymph, amazed,
Jumps out of her sleep and escapes the hands of the garden god,
And by her flight awakes all of the gods
And all that had settled down to rest in the forest.


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But god Priapus, all too ready in his own defence
Had everyone
by moonlight laugh at this display.

Inquisitive practitioners of art, does this turbulent subject tempt you to devote an art depiction to it and do you desire something of the kind, well then I want to be of service to you. There is no better model as a match than that for which the Latin top poet Virgil sketched the model in the third book of his Almanac, or Feestdagen, which his recent translator Arnold Hoogvliet copied in the same lively colours.

The wine god once took a cheerful walk with his satyrs
(Our fable will lack neither joke nor amusement,)
To where the Hebrus
stream flows along sandy shores
To where the Rodope looks over all the land,
And where the bees hum on the Pangean flowers
The company there played on copper tympani,
To which sound a swarm of
bees, innumerable,
Gathered and followed everywhere they went.
But Bacchus shut up the swarm in one of the hollow trees,
And then created the first fruit of the honeycomb,
When the satyrs and Silenus, no matter how bald and old,
Fell in love with the taste, for which they all struggled in the forest,
When the old one found honey where he heard the buzzing
In an
elm, he hid it from all of satyrdom
Until he finally climbed on the
back of his donkey
Hanging on to the trees, and to greedily grasp after delicacies
In the nest and damages and hurts the bees


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Then the entire swarm shot at him full of wrath,
And stung his bald head and
wrinkled skin
Until he falls to the ground with thousands of stings
And has to beg all his satyrs for help in that need,
While his
donkey treads on him with the foot:
The cloven-hoofed community
draws near and mocks the old soul,
And laughs at his face, covered with red patches
While his damaged knee made him limp badly:
Even Liber
joined in the laughter ....

The old, stiff Silenus who is attacked by thousands of stinging enemies, crashed to the ground, calling for help to the cloven-hoofed ones, to be saved from them and from under the legs of his long ear, who all approached next to the wine god stand laughing at that incident, could make for a comical scene. Certainly spectators of such a scene would also find cause for laughter.

Finally, how far a painter who has good sense and is proficient in histories and archaeology and on that account can give adequate reasons on firm ground for what he adds to his historical depiction, excels over others and, on the contrary, yhow others who have less sense and incompetently, semi-literately and stupidly grope around, and those who when requested for their way of proceeding and do that on lose ground so that it is ridiculous, will appear from these examples.

In the digression on page 174 of my second book I mentioned an artist who had depicted in a print where Abraham had sent off his maidservant


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Hagar. When he was told that tents of that appearance did not accord with the customs of that time, and were not based on old evidence, but that fixed poles stretched with straps or cords attached to the ground on both sides with wooden pegs, and further covered with animal skins, or for such who were more wealthy, prepared with woven hair cloths of various colours like our tapestries, an assembly that was easily taken apart and easily erected when they wished to move from one region to another, he gave as answer to he who said this: That he did not understand. That the tents of the patriarchs were made of wooden boards, assembled and attached with handles and hinges so as to be able to fold them up compactly and transport them with their door frames and roof supports on wagons where they wished to go, as one now sees in Punch and Judy or waffle stands. Well defended.

Those who out of curiosity do research about this in olden writings and consult linguists (as I also need to do) will discover that the Tentoria from which the name tents is derived, carry that name because they were stretched with cords and poles, which were mostly covered with skins of animals, called Pelles in Latin. In Livy there is often mention of skins with which the solders covered their tents in the winter. Klaudianus said of Stilikon that he has often carried on under the skins.


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The biographies of Alexander by both Arianus and Curtius state that the huts of the soldiers were made of skins and Isodorus, speaking about such tents says: they are called tabernacula because the hangings that were stretched with cords or with straps were shored and kept standing with poles. Willem Goeree notes about Genesis 13-18 that the Caldean text says: He has stretched his tent, to more easily transport it from one place to another, where his cattle found more lush meadows, and on page 373 of the second volume of the Mosaize historie, where he describes the way of life of the Hebrew fathers: they mostly lived in huts and easily erected army tents. The mentioned writer also observes that the coverings of the Holy Tabernacle were ram and badger skins, and with Exodus 35 verse 26 that the women spun goat’s hair to weave curtains for the tabernacle.

Finally I find still another kind of tent which Vegetius calls CASAE because they were interwoven from green branches and covered with rush and water reeds. Ovid refers to them when he says.

While another already braids a hut of green.

With all this research I was not able to discover any indication that the patriarchs had tents made of boards, like our waffle stands, and the justification by the mentioned artist is risible. The practiced artist (whom Willem Goeree mentions on p. 46 of his Inleyding tot de praktyk der algemeene schilderkonst)


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gave a wiser answer. At the request of a learned gentleman he had painted a piece depicting the wedding at Cana, where Christ changes the water into wine and had deliberately depicted red wine. The eye of the gentleman, seeing the scene, fell precisely on this detail, so that he asked the painter how he knew that there was red wine at this wedding. The painter asked in return, where it stood that there was white wine? In the meantime they searched the text in John 2 to see if given the circumstance one guess might be to the advantage of the other. But not finding anything the gentleman still wanted to know why he had chosen red instead of white wine. The painter noticing that his understanding was here put to the test by a learned man, answered that he had a much more probably reason which necessitated his choice to remain with the truth. Because first off (he said) it is highly probable that Christ recreated such wine as grew in Galilee and was drunk by the inhabitants. I therefore decide that he changed the water into such wine as people in that time were accustomed to drink before and also during weddings, and that this was not white but red wine is apparent from this, that no other wine is mentioned in the Holy Scriptures, for which he adduced the spot in Isaiah 63, verse 2, Proverbs 23, verse 31 and many others. The learned man took great satisfaction in these good reasons, and was surprised by the well-practiced understanding of the painter.

Then there was also an artist who rendered allegorically the situation of the Netherlands in the years 1567 and 1568, with a damaged


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