Diogenes by: John William Waterhouse (1882), Salvator Rosa (1650s), Jean-Léon Gérôme (1860) and Jules Bastien-Lepage (1873)
Diogenes (c.412-323 BC) was a Greek philosopher from Sinope (in modern-day Turkey). To describe Diogenes as a controversial character would be a bit of an understatement; he managed to get himself banished from Sinope for defacing coins, he then continuously criticised Athenian society whilst living there, calling it corrupt and sinful, and he publicly humiliated both Plato and Alexander the Great.
Little is known about the teachings of Diogenes, as none of his writings have survived. However, from various written accounts, he has been identified as having Stoic beliefs in the importance of action over though or speech in communicating a virtuous life.
‘I am not an Athenian or a Corinthian, but a citizen of the world.’ - Diogenes of Sinope
Based off of ancient mythology the painting depicts Bacchus, the god of wine, falling in love with Ariadne at first sight. Ariadne had been abandoned on the island of Naxos by her previous lover. Bacchus rides in on a chariot drawn by cheetahs and is surrounded by revelers. Right above Ariadne is an arrangement of stars which represent how Bacchus raised her to heaven, transforming her into a constellation. Other references to the ancients are the man with the snake which was taken from a sculpture Laocoon and his Sons which had been discovered in Rome. The boy in front is a satyr which in ancient mythology was half boy and half goat. They were companions of the god and known for their love of drinking, music, and revelry.
The painting is a part of a series by Bellini, Titian, and Dosso Dossi that hung in the ducal palace of Ferrara. The series was commissioned by Alfonso d’Este, the Duke of Ferrara. This painting is considered to be one of Titian’s great works and his signature can be found on the golden urn that lays near Ariadne’s feet.