Fêtes and Folly: The Youth of Bacchus

7:00 AM

William-Adolphe Bouguereau, The Youth of Bacchus, 1884


Spring break is starting, and we all know what that means: crazy parties, new cohorts, and plenty of regrets—at least if you’re Bacchus. The god of wine and ritual madness (in the form of concerts and late-night bonfires around this time of year) always brings the drama. Without fail, he turns otherwise-sensible young ladies and gents into packs of irresponsible hooligans. Bouguereau captures the mood of Bacchus’ antics with The Youth of Bacchus, wherein young people (presumably letting loose after the never-ending workload of third quarter) drape themselves on the wine god, reveling in his reckless abandon.

The full-time party boy’s tan physique contrasts with spring break students who have not been outside in months. Bouguereau’s painting bursts with youthful gaiety, with subjects delighted to be temporarily free of academic and personal responsibility. The heavenly figures are all clearly defined but still connected and entwined, entirely unconcerned. I suppose that, when one is in the presence of the actual party god, one forgets about that homework due on the first day back.

*** Editor's Note: Students developed the topic of Fêtes and Folly to chronicle elegant celebrations, bad dates, late nights, or other things related to that time in Spring where barbaric yawps can be heard from backyards, beaches, or the more familiar rooftop. Enjoy their revelry and occasional tales of ribaldry over the next couple of weeks.

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