Madness, Bacchic or Otherwise

Madness plays a key motivational role throughout the Metamorphoses. Temporary psychosis is utilised by the poet to excuse many of the most heinous crimes, from Philomela and Procne’s vengeful infanticide to Hades’ abduction of the innocent Persephone. These instances of short-lived insanity derive from diametrically opposed sources: the former are possessed by the Furies, and the latter is struck by Cupid’s arrow. There remains, however, a further fount of madness – the god of madness himself, Bacchus. This god’s peculiar brand of insanity is almost always that induced by wine, music and other hedonistic pursuits. The influence of Bacchus’ drug-induced lunacy is joyfully obvious in this particular piece. The design is inspired by Hunter S. Thompson’s classic novel, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. This text might reasonably be considered one of the most hallucinogenic works to emerge from the early 1970s, which is certainly no mean feat. Also worthy of note is the ironic juxtaposition of its rather heady subject matter with the sedate, pastel-heavy colour palette. This aesthetic choice serves, interestingly, to create a rather temperate depiction of human mental extremes.