Paolo Domenico Finoglia, “Apollo and Marsyas”, c.1630s
Paolo Domenico Finoglia , born in Orta di Atella near Naples, was an Italian painter of the early Baroque period, active mainly in South Italy, including Naples and towns in Apulia. He derived his style from Battista Caracciolo who was a prominent follower of Carravaggio.
The comic playwright Melanippides of Melos, living between 480 t0 430 BC, tells the story in his lost comedy “Marsyas” of how, after inventing the aulos, a wind instrument, the goddess Athena looked in the mirror while she was playing it. She saw how blowing into it puffed up her cheeks and made her look silly, so she threw the aulos away and cursed it so that whoever picked it up would meet an awful death.
The aulos was picked up by the satyr Marsyas, who challenged Apollo to a musical contest. They both agreed beforehand that whoever won would be allowed to do whatever he wanted to the loser. Marsyas played the aulos and Apollo played the lyre. Apollo turned his lyre upside-down and played it. He asked Marsyas to do the same with his instrument. Since he could not, Apollo was deemed to victor. Apollo hung Marsyas from a pine tree and flayed him alive to punish him for his hubris in daring to challenge one of the gods.