Feast of the Gods

Frans Floris

Photo: UMJ/N. Lackner

Frans Floris (c. 1520–1570)

Feast of the Gods

Oil on wood

Inv. no. 57

Happiness and misfortune – ultimately, gods are only people


The world of classical mythology is not an ideal world. There is at times fierce enmity among the gods. The immortals are many things, except one: they are not infallible They are aware of jealousy and lust as they are of goodness and grace. In reality, it is earthly, not otherworldly, characteristics which determine the daily will and actions of the gods. For the artist, they are welcome players in an erudite allegory. Invoked here is the ancient ideal of the Golden Age, the Aetas aurea, a time of carefree peace and effortless enjoyment of life.


The immortals enjoy a lavish feast. Even Mars and Hercules have put down their weapons, Saturn rests his deadly scythe. Only in peacetime can arts and commerce flourish. Apollo, God of the arts, accompanies the feast on his lyre, Mercury, protector of commerce, adds his flute to this. But even the most beautiful feast is threatened, as in this case by the harpies, winged ugly beings who tarnish everything with their faeces. Here, too, the reminder in the background is that even the happiest moment is short-lived.

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