At the age of 21 Michelangelo went to Rome for the first time. In the five years that he spent here only two works were finished, the Bacchus and La Pieta.
The statue of Bacchus was commissioned by the banker Jacopo Galli for this garden, ordering it to be fashioned after the models of the ancients. The body of this drunken and staggering god gives and impression of both youthfulness and femininity. Vasari says that this strange blending of effects is the characteristic of the Greek god Dionysus. But in Michelangelo's experience, sensuality of such a divine nature has a drawback for man: in his left hand the god holds with indifference a lionskin, the symbol of death, and a bunch of grapes, the symbol of life, from which a faun is feeding. Thus we are brought to realize, in a sudden way, what significance this miracle of pure sensuality has for man: living only for a short while he will find himself in the position of the faun, caaught in the grasp of death, the lionskin.