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Type: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 212 × 207 cm
Location: National Museum, Kroměříž
The Punishment of Marsyas (also known as The Flaying of Marsyas) is a painting by the Italian late Renaissance artist Titian, executed around 1570-1576. It is currently housed in National Museum in Kroměříž, in the Czech Republic. It’s Titian’s last finished work.In Greek mythology, the satyr Marsyas is a central figure in two stories involving death: in one, he picked up the double flute (aulos) that had been abandoned by Athena and played it; in the other, he challenged Apollo to a contest of music and lost his hide and life. In Antiquity, literary sources often emphasise the hubris of Marsyas and the justice of his punishment.
In one conjunction Rhea/Cybele, and his episodes are situated by the mythographers in Celaenae (or Kelainai) in Phrygia (today, the town of Dinar in Turkey), at the main source of the Meander (the river Menderes).
When a genealogy was applied to him, Marsyas was the son of Olympus (son of Heracles and Euboea, daughter of Thespius), or of Oeagrus, or of Hyagnis. Olympus was, alternatively, said to be Marsyas’ son or pupil.
The painting is part of a series of canvases with mythological themes which Titian executed in his late years. It portrays the flaying of Marsyas, a silenus who dared to defy the God Apollo. The choice of such a crude scene was perhaps inspired by the death of Marcantonio Bragadin, a Venetian commander who was flayed by the Ottomans in that period.
Midas, the thoughtful character on the right, is likely the artist’s self-portrait.