By Dr Joanne Berry
Last updated 2011-02-17
This scene is a detail from a fresco that runs round all four walls of a room in a suburban villa just outside Pompeii. The fresco is a megalographia (a depiction of life-size figures), and is unique in Pompeii.
The panels of the fresco appear to show a series of consecutive events, and their interpretation is much debated. Most commonly, it is thought that the fresco illustrates the initiation of a woman into the secret rites of Dionysus, and it is this theory that gave rise to the name of the Villa of the Mysteries. In the scene pictured here, the initiate is flogged, while another woman dances beside her.
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