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Comus

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Comus

The Reign of Comus by Lorenzo Costa.

In Greek mythology, Comus (Ancient Greek: Κῶμος) is the god of festivity, revels and nocturnal dalliances. He is a son and a cup-bearer of the god Bacchus. Comus represents anarchy and chaos. His mythology occurs in the later times of antiquity. During his festivals in Ancient Greece, men and women exchanged clothes. He was depicted as a young man on the point of unconsciousness from drink. He had a wreath of flowers on his head and carried a torch that was in the process of being dropped. Unlike the purely carnal Pan or purely intoxicated Dionysos, Comus was a god of excess.

Comus in art

Description of Comus as he appeared in painting is found in Imagines (Greek Εἰκόνες, translit. Eikones) by Philostratus the Elder, a Greek writer and sophist of the 3rd century AD.

Lorenzo Costa depicted Comus in his painting The Reign of Comus.

Comus appears at the start of the masque Pleasure Reconciled to Virtue by Ben Jonson and in Les fêtes de Paphos (The Festivals of Paphos), an opéra-ballet by Jean-Joseph Cassanéa de Mondonville.

In John Milton's masque Comus, the god Comus is described as the son of Bacchus and Circe. This is a post-classical invention.

Comus is featured in the baroque operas Les plaisirs de Versailles by Marc-Antoine Charpentier and King Arthur by Henry Purcell and John Dryden, and in a masque, Comus, by Thomas Arne.

A selfish dandy, Comus Bassington is the central character in the novel The Unbearable Bassington by Saki (H.H. Munro).

Cult British progressive folk group Comus took their name and much of the lyrical content of their classic 1971 album First Utterance from Comus.

External links

  • Text and gallery at Theoi Greek Mythology
  • Encyclopædia Britannica (XI edition)
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