By Richard Seaford
Covering quite a lot of matters that have been neglected some time past, together with secret, cult and philosophy, Richard Seaford explores Dionysos – probably the most studied figures of the traditional Greek gods.
Popularly often called the god of wine and frenzied abandon, and an influential determine for theatre the place drama originated as a part of the cult of Dionysos, Seaford is going past the mundane and ordinary to discover the heritage and impact of this god as by no means before.
As a quantity within the well known Gods and Heroes sequence, this is often an indispensible advent to the topic, and a very good reference element for higher-level study.
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Additional info for Dionysos (Gods and Heroes of the Ancient World)
Of course this lacks crucial elements of a Dionysiac festival (the god himself, for instance, is nowhere to be found), but it is worth noting that it is structured by the three basic combinations of opposites – man–animal, male–female, Greek–foreigner – that are fundamental also to the identities, in Bacchae, of Dionysos and his followers. In the ancient Athenian Anthesteria, also celebrated in February, males dressed up as animal-like satyrs, and Dionysos was escorted into the centre of the town in a cart shaped like a ship.
It was Dionysos, according to the chorus of Euripides’ Bacchae (421–3), who ‘gave the pain-removing delight of wine equally to the wealthy man and to the lesser man’. Though in the paintings by Sophilos and Kleitias Dionysos seems less aristocratic than the other gods, the wine he brings is needed for the aristocratic wedding-feast. We will see that it was wine, administered by Dionysos, that reintegrated the artisan Hephaistos into the community of Olympian gods. In Daphnis and Chloe the owners of the country estate leave their town dwellings to join the rural workers in celebrating the vintage.
19). Philo (first century AD) writes that Bacchic worshippers get excited until they see what they long for (On the Contemplative Life 12). The epiphany of a deity may emerge entirely from the framed expectant enthusiasm of ritual. In Greek vase-painting of the classical period Dionysos frequently appears in the company of frenzied women (maenads). 3) records the practice, ‘in many Greek cities’, of cult for Dionysos that includes married women in groups ‘generally hymning the presence (parousia) of Dionysos, imitating the maenads who were the companions of the god’.