The Competition of Apollo and Marsyas and the Judgment of Midas

Giulio Sanuto Italian
After Bronzino (Agnolo di Cosimo di Mariano) Italian

Not on view

Sanuto's engraving is based on a design by Bronzino for the inside of a harpsichord lid now in the Hermitage. Ovid had kept Apollo's musical competition with Pan, attended by King Midas (Metamorphoses 11.146-93), separate from that with the satyr Marsyas (6.382-400). Other sources, however, conflated them. The Florentine humanist Cristoforo Landino had named Midas and Minerva as judges of the contest with Marsyas, as they appear here at right. In the center, the defeated Marsyas is flayed, while in the background, Apollo punishes Midas for his bad judgment by attaching long ears to his head. Although the king hid them beneath a turban (not shown), his barber knew the truth and, sworn to secrecy, shouted it into a hole, as we see in the left foreground. The reeds that grew there whispered, "Midas has ass's ears." Sanuto has supplemented his model with the Muses from Raphael's Parnassus and a view of Venice.

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