Preface and Acknowledgments
We cannot exist, we cannot live humanely except through the meanderings
of time: the totality of time alone makes up and completes human life. How
can we refer to this completed whole?
GEORGES BATAILLE,
The Tears of Eros
We die because we cannot connect the end to the beginning.
ALCMAEON
OF CROTON
(fifth century
B.C.)
In composing
Bacchus and Ariadne
(cf. the frontispiece to this book)
Titian must have had in mind one of the most well known poems of
the Roman poet Catullus (84-54 B.C.), poem 64, which describes how
Bacchus and his entourage suddenly overtook Ariadne, who had just
been abandoned by Theseus:
In another part the flowering Iacchus [Bacchus] was wandering
With a dance of Satyrs and Sileni from Nysa
Looking for you, Ariadne, and burning with love.
Some of the women shook long rods with covered points,
Some of them threw in the air the parts of a bull,
Some pulled round themselves a belt of twisted snakes,
Some thronged around the box which held the orgies,
The orgies which only initiates may be told of;
Others struck timbrels with palms uplifted
Or made slight tinklings with the polished brass:
Many blew horns and made a raucous noise
And barbarian pipes screamed out their horrible tunes.
(trans. C. H. Sisson)
As we will see in chapter
2,
Titian was thinking of several literary
depictions of this mythological scene. But consider Catullus's per-
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