The Invitation to the Dance


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The Invitation to the Dance. An intertextual reassessment

By Julia Habetzeder (Uppsala University, Sweden)


With its original manifestation generally dated to c. 150 BC, the Invitation to the Dance is a textbook example of Hellenistic sculpture. But despite much scholarly attention there is still no consensus as to what motif the sculpture group depicts. Inspired by intertextual theory, this study catalogues and re-examines 35 sculptures of the female figure and 34 sculptures of the satyr. The article focuses on preserved sculptures, rather than a reconstructed model image. Variations of the repeated forms are highlighted as significant for the interpretation of the types. The reading of the Invitation to the Dance thus put forward suggests that the group composition displays the moment after the satyr has pulled the female’s garment down from her upper body. It is furthermore emphasized that both satyr and female figure were at times—perhaps even predominately—displayed as solitary figures. The satyr’s foot-clapper is suggested to have been included primarily in instances where the satyr was displayed on his own. Sculptures of the female figure fending off —though not touching—an intrusive companion could have been paired with other Dionysian figures as well, a practice that might be reflected in sculptures that show this female type in other group compositions.

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Bibliographical information

Julia Habetzeder, ’The Invitation to the Dance. An intertextual reassessment’, Opuscula. Annual of the Swedish Institutes at Athens and Rome (OpAthRom) 14, Stockholm 2021, 419-463. ISSN: 2000-0898. ISBN: 978-91-977799-3-7. Softcover, 478 pages.

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