⌚ Ajax: The Ideal Greek Hero
Transcribed by Helen Bradstock. Euius Euiosfrom the cry "euae" in lyric passages, and in Euripides ' play, The Bacchae. But even though Achilles points out that all men meet the same death in the end, the poem never asks the reader to question Ajax: The Ideal Greek Hero legitimacy of Ajax: The Ideal Greek Hero. From the The Myth Of Stalins Great Terror This set, Ajax: The Ideal Greek Hero by Robert Fagles, includes an abridged Ajax: The Ideal Greek Hero on six audio cassettes nine hours accompanied by Ajax: The Ideal Greek Hero nine page Ajax: The Ideal Greek Hero. Algora Press.
Palladion and the madness of Ajax
This is why so few ancient Greek bronze originals survive, and why we often have to look at ancient Roman copies in marble of varying quality to try to understand what the Greeks achieved. To make matter worse, Roman marble sculptures were buried for centuries, and very often we recover only fragments of a sculpture that have to be reassembled. This is the reason you will often see that sculptures in museums include an arm or hand that are modern recreations, or that ancient sculptures are simply displayed incomplete.
The Doryphoros Spear-Bearer in the Naples museum image above is a Roman copy of a lost Greek original that we think was found, largely intact, in the provincial Roman city of Pompeii. The ancient Egyptians also developed a canon. Centuries later, during the Renaissance, Leonardo da Vinci investigated the ideal proportions of the human body with his Vitruvian Man. Beauty consists in the proportions, not of the elements, but of the parts, that is to say, of finger to finger, and of all fingers to the palm and the wrist, and of these to the forearm, and of the forearm to the upper arm, and of all the other parts to each other.
See Warren G. Moon, ed. Doryphoros at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Doryphoros on Art Through Time. More Smarthistory images…. Sign up for our newsletter! Receive occasional emails about new Smarthistory content. In the Orphic tradition, the "first Dionysus" was the son of Zeus and Persephone , and was dismembered by the Titans before being reborn. The earliest mentions of this name in literature describe him as a partner of Gaia and call him the highest god. Aeschylus linked Zagreus with Hades, as either Hades' son or Hades himself.
It is possible that the association between the two was known by the third century BC, when the poet Callimachus may have written about it in a now-lost source. The mystery cult of Bacchus was brought to Rome from the Greek culture of southern Italy or by way of Greek-influenced Etruria. It was established around BC in the Aventine grove of Stimula by a priestess from Campania , near the temple where Liber Pater "the Free Father" had a State-sanctioned, popular cult. Liber was a native Roman god of wine, fertility, and prophecy, patron of Rome's plebeians citizen-commoners , and one of the members of the Aventine Triad , along with his mother Ceres and sister or consort Libera.
A temple to the Triad was erected on the Aventine Hill in BC, along with the institution of celebrating the festival of Liberalia. The worship of the Triad gradually took on more and more Greek influence, and by BC, Liber and Libera had been formally identified with Bacchus and Proserpina. Liber, like his Aventine companions, carried various aspects of his older cults into official Roman religion. He protected various aspects of agriculture and fertility, including the vine and the "soft seed" of its grapes, wine and wine vessels, and male fertility and virility. In Roman and Greek literary sources from the late Republic and Imperial era, several notable triumphs feature similar, distinctively "Bacchic" processional elements, recalling the supposedly historic "Triumph of Liber".
Liber and Dionysus may have had a connection that predated Classical Greece and Rome, in the form of the Mycenaean god Eleutheros, who shared the lineage and iconography of Dionysus but whose name has the same meaning as Liber. Several depictions from the late Republic era feature processions, depicting the "Triumph of Liber". In Rome, the most well-known festivals of Bacchus were the Bacchanalia , based on the earlier Greek Dionysia festivals. These Bacchic rituals were said to have included omophagic practices, such as pulling live animals apart and eating the whole of them raw. This practice served not only as a reenactment of the infant death and rebirth of Bacchus, but also as a means by which Bacchic practitioners produced "enthusiasm": etymologically, to let a god enter the practitioner's body or to have her become one with Bacchus.
In Livy 's account, the Bacchic mysteries were a novelty at Rome; originally restricted to women and held only three times a year, they were corrupted by an Etruscan-Greek version, and thereafter drunken, disinhibited men and women of all ages and social classes cavorted in a sexual free-for-all five times a month. Livy relates their various outrages against Rome's civil and religious laws and traditional morality mos maiorum ; a secretive, subversive and potentially revolutionary counter-culture. Livy's sources, and his own account of the cult, probably drew heavily on the Roman dramatic genre known as "Satyr plays", based on Greek originals.
Modern scholarship treats much of Livy's account with skepticism; more certainly, a Senatorial edict, the Senatus consultum de Bacchanalibus was distributed throughout Roman and allied Italy. It banned the former Bacchic cult organisations. Each meeting must seek prior senatorial approval through a praetor. No more than three women and two men were allowed at any one meeting, and those who defied the edict risked the death penalty. Bacchus was conscripted into the official Roman pantheon as an aspect of Liber, and his festival was inserted into the Liberalia.
In Roman culture, Liber, Bacchus and Dionysus became virtually interchangeable equivalents. Thanks to his mythology involving travels and struggles on earth, Bacchus became euhemerised as a historical hero, conqueror, and founder of cities. He was a patron deity and founding hero at Leptis Magna , birthplace of the emperor Septimius Severus , who promoted his cult. In some Roman sources, the ritual procession of Bacchus in a tiger-drawn chariot, surrounded by maenads, satyrs and drunks, commemorates the god's triumphant return from the conquest of India.
Pliny believed this to be the historical prototype for the Roman Triumph. In the Neoplatonist philosophy and religion of Late Antiquity , the Olympian gods were sometimes considered to number 12 based on their spheres of influence. For example, according to Sallustius , "Jupiter, Neptune, and Vulcan fabricate the world; Ceres, Juno, and Diana animate it; Mercury, Venus, and Apollo harmonize it; and, lastly, Vesta, Minerva, and Mars preside over it with a guarding power. In the Orphic tradition, a saying was supposedly given by an oracle of Apollo that stated " Zeus , Hades , [and] Helios -Dionysus" were "three gods in one godhead".
This statement apparently conflated Dionysus not only with Hades, but also his father Zeus, and implied a particularly close identification with the sun-god Helios. Though the last known worshippers of the Greek and Roman gods were converted before AD, [ citation needed ] there were several isolated instances of revived worship of Dionysus during the Medieval and early modern periods. With the rise of modern neopaganism and Hellenic polytheism , worship of the god has once again been revived. According to the Lanercost chronicle , during Easter in in Scotland , the parish priest of Inverkeithing led young women in a dance in honor of Priapus and Father Liber , commonly identified with Dionysus. The priest danced and sang at the front, carrying a representation of the phallus on a pole.
He was killed by a Christian mob later that year. Watkins believes that Richard of Durham, the author of the chronicle, identified an occurrence of apotropaic magic with his knowledge of ancient Greek religion , rather than recording an actual case of survival of pagan rituals. The late medieval Byzantine scholar Gemistus Pletho secretly advocated in favor of a return to paganism in medieval Greece. In the eighteenth century, Hellfire Clubs appeared in Britain and Ireland. Though activities varied between the clubs, some of them were very pagan, and included shrines and sacrifices. Dionysus was one of the most popular deities, alongside deities like Venus and Flora. Today one can still see the statue of Dionysus left behind in the Hellfire Caves.
He declared himself High Priest, and added local drunks to the list of membership. He maintained that those who died as members would go to a Bacchanalia for their afterlife. Modern pagan and polytheist groups often include worship of Dionysus in their traditions and practices, most prominently groups which have sought to revive Hellenic polytheism , such as the Supreme Council of Ethnic Hellenes YSEE. In the Greek interpretation of the Egyptian pantheon , Dionysus was often identified with Osiris.
The most notable record of this belief is found in Herodotus ' ' Histories '. Other syncretic Greco-Egyptian deities arose out of this conflation, including with the gods Serapis and Hermanubis. Serapis was believed to be both Hades and Osiris, and the Roman Emperor Julian considered him the same as Dionysus as well. Egyptian myths about Priapus said that the Titans conspired against Osiris, killed him, divided his body into equal parts, and "slipped them secretly out of the house".
All but Osiris' penis, which since none of them "was willing to take it with him", they threw into the river. Isis, Osiris' wife, hunted down and killed the Titans, reassembled Osiris' body parts "into the shape of a human figure", and gave them "to the priests with orders that they pay Osiris the honours of a god". But since she was unable to recover the penis she ordered the priests "to pay to it the honours of a god and to set it up in their temples in an erect position. He also notes that the grieving goddess Demeter refused to drink wine, as she states that it would be against themis for her to drink wine, which is the gift of Dionysus, after Persephone's abduction, because of this association; indicating that Hades may in fact have been a "cover name" for the underworld Dionysus.
Evidence for a cult connection is quite extensive, particularly in southern Italy, especially when considering the heavy involvement of death symbolism included in Dionysian worship;  statues of Dionysus   found in the Ploutonion at Eleusis gives further evidence as the statues found bear a striking resemblance to the statue of Eubouleus, also called Aides Kyanochaites Hades of the flowing dark hair ,    known as the youthful depiction of the Lord of the Underworld. The statue of Eubouleus is described as being radiant but disclosing a strange inner darkness   Ancient portrayals show Dionysus holding in his hand the kantharos, a wine-jar with large handles, and occupying the place where one would expect to see Hades.
Archaic artist Xenocles portrayed on one side of a vase, Zeus, Poseidon and Hades, each with his emblems of power; with Hades' head turned back to front and, on the other side, Dionysus striding forward to meet his bride Persephone, with the kantharos in his hand, against a background of grapes. Both Hades and Dionysus were associated with a divine tripartite deity with Zeus. According to Marguerite Rigoglioso, Hades is Dionysus, and this dual god was believed by the Eleusinian tradition to have impregnated Persephone. This would bring the Eleusinian in harmony with the myth in which Zeus, not Hades, impregnated Persephone to bear the first Dionysus. Being a tripartite deity Hades is also Zeus, doubling as being the Sky God or Zeus, Hades abducts his 'daughter' and paramour Persephone.
The taking of Kore by Hades is the act which allows the conception and birth of a second integrating force: Iacchos Zagreus-Dionysus , also known as Liknites, the helpless infant form of that Deity who is the unifier of the dark underworld chthonic realm of Hades and the Olympian "Shining" one of Zeus. The Phrygian god Sabazios was alternately identified with Zeus or with Dionysus. The Byzantine Greek encyclopedia, Suda c. He acquired this form of address from the rite pertaining to him; for the barbarians call the bacchic cry "sabazein". Hence some of the Greeks too follow suit and call the cry "sabasmos"; thereby Dionysos [becomes] Sabazios. They also used to call "saboi" those places that had been dedicated to him and his Bacchantes Demosthenes [in the speech] "On Behalf of Ktesiphon" [mentions them].
Some say that Saboi is the term for those who are dedicated to Sabazios, that is to Dionysos, just as those [dedicated] to Bakkhos [are] Bakkhoi. They say that Sabazios and Dionysos are the same. Thus some also say that the Greeks call the Bakkhoi Saboi. Strabo , in the first century, linked Sabazios with Zagreus among Phrygian ministers and attendants of the sacred rites of Rhea and Dionysos. Several ancient sources record an apparently widespread belief in the classical world that the god worshiped by the Jewish people, Yahweh , was identifiable as Dionysus or Liber via his identification with Sabazios. Tacitus, Lydus, Cornelius Labeo, and Plutarch all either made this association, or discussed it as an extant belief though some, like Tacitus, specifically brought it up in order to reject it.
According to Plutarch, one of the reasons for the identification is that Jews were reported to hail their god with the words "Euoe" and "Sabi", a cry typically associated with the worship of Sabazius. According to scholar Sean McDonough, it is possible that Plutarch's sources had confused the cry of "Iao Sabaoth" typically used by Greek speakers in reference to Yahweh with the Sabazian cry of "Euoe Saboe", originating the confusion and conflation of the two deities. Further bolstering this connection would have been coins used by the Maccabees that included imagery linked to the worship of Dionysus such as grapes, vine leaves, and cups. Various different accounts and traditions existed in the ancient world regarding the parentage, birth, and life of Dionysus on earth, complicated by his several rebirths.
By the first century BC, some mythographers had attempted to harmonize the various accounts of Dionysus' birth into a single narrative involving not only multiple births, but two or three distinct manifestations of the god on earth throughout history in different lifetimes. The historian Diodorus Siculus said that according to "some writers of myths" there were two gods named Dionysus, an older one, who was the son of Zeus and Persephone,  but that the "younger one also inherited the deeds of the older, and so the men of later times, being unaware of the truth and being deceived because of the identity of their names thought there had been but one Dionysus. Though the varying genealogy of Dionysus was mentioned in many works of classical literature, only a few contain the actual narrative myths surrounding the events of his multiple births.
These include the first century BC Bibliotheca historica by Greek historian Diodorus , which describes the birth and deeds of the three incarnations of Dionysus;  the brief birth narrative given by the first century AD Roman author Hyginus , which describes a double birth for Dionysus; and a longer account in the form of Greek poet Nonnus 's epic Dionysiaca , which discusses three incarnations of Dionysus similar to Diodorus' account, but which focuses on the life of the third Dionysus, born to Zeus and Semele. Though Diodorus mentions some traditions which state an older, Indian or Egyptian Dionysus existed who invented wine, no narratives are given of his birth or life among mortals, and most traditions ascribe the invention of wine and travels through India to the last Dionysus.
This is the same horned Dionysus described by Hyginus and Nonnus in later accounts, and the Dionysus worshiped by the Orphics, who was dismembered by the Titans and then reborn. Nonnus calls this Dionysus Zagreus , while Diodorus says he is also considered identical with Sabazius. It was this Dionysus who was said to have taught mortals how to use oxen to plow the fields, rather than doing so by hand. His worshipers were said to have honored him for this by depicting him with horns. The Greek poet Nonnus gives a birth narrative for Dionysus in his late fourth or early fifth century AD epic Dionysiaca. In it, he described how Zeus "intended to make a new Dionysos grow up, a bullshaped copy of the older Dionysos" who was the Egyptian god Osiris.
Dionysiaca 4  Zeus took the shape of a serpent " drakon " , and "ravished the maidenhood of unwedded Persephoneia. Zagreus, despite his infancy, was able to climb onto the throne of Zeus and brandish his lightning bolts, marking him a Zeus' heir. Hera saw this and alerted the Titans, who smeared their faces with chalk and ambushed the infant Zagreus "while he contemplated his changeling countenance reflected in a mirror. However, according to Nonnus, "where his limbs had been cut piecemeal by the Titan steel, the end of his life was the beginning of a new life as Dionysos.
Hera intervened, killing the bull with a shout, and the Titans finally slaughtered him and cut him into pieces. Zeus attacked the Titans and had them imprisoned in Tartaros. This caused the mother of the Titans, Gaia , to suffer, and her symptoms were seen across the whole world, resulting in fires and floods, and boiling seas. Zeus took pity on her, and in order to cool down the burning land, he caused great rains to flood the world.
Dionysiaca 6 . In the Orphic tradition, Dionysus was, in part, a god associated with the underworld. As a result, the Orphics considered him the son of Persephone, and believed that he had been dismembered by the Titans and then reborn. The myth of the dismemberment of Dionysus was alluded to as early as the fourth century BC by Plato in his Phaedo , in which Socrates claims that the initiations of the Dionysian Mysteries are similar to those of the philosophic path. Late Neoplatonists such as Damascius explored the implications of this at length. Many modern sources identify this "Orphic Dionysus" with the god Zagreus , though this name does not seem to have been used by any of the ancient Orphics, who simply called him Dionysus.
The infant was taken to Mount Ida , where, like the infant Zeus, he was guarded by the dancing Curetes. Zeus intended Dionysus to be his successor as ruler of the cosmos, but a jealous Hera incited the Titans to kill the child. It is said that he was mocked by the Titans who gave him a thyrsus a fennel stalk in place of his rightful scepter. As Diodorus relates, one school of thought holds that Dionysus was not literally born on earth at all, but rather, his birth narrative is an allegory for the generative power of the gods at work in nature.
In this account, Dionysus is said to be the son of Zeus and Demeter, the goddess of agriculture. Diodorus noted the symbolism this myth held for its adherents: Dionysus, god of the vine, was born from the gods of the rain and the earth. He was torn apart and boiled by the sons of Gaia, or "earth born", symbolizing the harvesting and wine-making process. Just as the remains of the bare vines are returned to the earth to restore its fruitfulness, the remains of the young Dionysus were returned to Demeter allowing him to be born again.
The birth narrative given by Gaius Julius Hyginus c. Hyginus writes that Liber was torn apart by the Titans, so Jove took the fragments of his heart and put them into a drink which he gave to Semele , the daughter of Harmonia and Cadmus , king and founder of Thebes. This resulted in Semele becoming pregnant. Juno appeared to Semele in the form of her nurse, Beroe, and told her: "Daughter, ask Jove to come to you as he comes to Juno, so you may know what pleasure it is to sleep with a god.
Jove then took the infant Liber from her womb, and put him in the care of Nysus. Nonnus describes how, when life was rejuvenated after the flood, it was lacking in revelry in the absence of Dionysus. For Wine was lacking. Without Bacchos to inspire the dance, its grace was only half complete and quite without profit; it charmed only the eyes of the company, when the circling dancer moved in twists and turns with a tumult of footsteps, having only nods for words, hand for mouth, fingers for voice. After he became protector of humanity, Zeus promises, Dionysus would struggle on earth, but be received "by the bright upper air to shine beside Zeus and to share the courses of the stars. The mortal princess Semele then had a dream, in which Zeus destroyed a fruit tree with a bolt of lightning, but did not harm the fruit.
He sent a bird to bring him one of the fruits, and sewed it into his thigh, so that he would be both mother and father to the new Dionysus. She saw the bull-shaped figure of a man emerge from his thigh, and then came to the realization that she herself had been the tree. Her father Cadmus, fearful of the prophetic dream, instructed Semele to make sacrifices to Zeus. Zeus came to Semele in her bed, adorned with various symbols of Dionysus. He transformed into a snake, and "Zeus made long wooing, and shouted "Euoi! Zeus then spoke to Semele, revealing his true identity, and telling her to be happy: "you bring forth a son who shall not die, and you I will call immortal.
Happy woman! During her pregnancy, Semele rejoiced in the knowledge that her son would be divine. She dressed herself in garlands of flowers and wreathes of ivy, and would run barefoot to the meadows and forests to frolic whenever she heard music. Hera became envious, and feared that Zeus would replace her with Semele as queen of Olympus. She went to Semele in the guise of an old woman who had been Cadmus' wet nurse. She made Semele jealous of the attention Zeus' gave to Hera, compared with their own brief liaison, and provoked her to request Zeus to appear before her in his full godhood. Semele prayed to Zeus that he show himself. Zeus answered her prayers, but warned her than no other mortals had ever seen him as he held his lightning bolts.
Semele reached out to touch them, and was burnt to ash. Dionysiaca 8. At his birth, he had a pair of horns shaped like a crescent moon. The Seasons crowned him with ivy and flowers, and wrapped horned snakes around his own horns. An alternate birth narrative is given by Diodorus from the Egyptian tradition. In it, Dionysus is the son of Ammon , who Diodorus regards both as the creator god and a quasi-historical king of Libya.
Ammon had married the goddess Rhea , but he had an affair with Amaltheia , who bore Dionysus. Ammon feared Rhea's wrath if she were to discover the child, so he took the infant Dionysus to Nysa Dionysus' traditional childhood home. Ammon brought Dionysus into a cave where he was to be cared for by Nysa, a daughter of the hero Aristaeus. It was said that he discovered the art of winemaking during his boyhood. His fame brought him to the attention of Rhea, who was furious with Ammon for his deception.
She attempted to bring Dionysus under her own power but, unable to do so, she left Ammon and married Cronus. Even in antiquity, the account of Dionysus' birth to a mortal woman led some to argue that he had been a historical figure who became deified over time, a suggestion of Euhemerism an explanation of mythic events having roots in mortal history often applied to demi-gods. The fourth century Roman emperor and philosopher Julian encountered examples of this belief, and wrote arguments against it.
In his letter To the Cynic Heracleios , Julian wrote "I have heard many people say that Dionysus was a mortal man because he was born of Semele, and that he became a god through his knowledge of theurgy and the Mysteries, and like our lord Heracles for his royal virtue was translated to Olympus by his father Zeus. The birth of Dionysus, Julian argues, was "no birth but a divine manifestation" to Semele, who foresaw that a physical manifestation of the god Dionysus would soon appear. However, Semele was impatient for the god to come, and began revealing his mysteries too early; for her transgression, she was struck down by Zeus. When Zeus decided it was time to impose a new order on humanity, for it to "pass from the nomadic to a more civilized mode of life", he sent his son Dionysus from India as a god made visible, spreading his worship and giving the vine as a symbol of his manifestation among mortals.
In Julian's interpretation, the Greeks "called Semele the mother of Dionysus because of the prediction that she had made, but also because the god honored her as having been the first prophetess of his advent while it was yet to be. According to Nonnus, Zeus gave the infant Dionysus to the care of Hermes. Hermes gave Dionysus to the Lamides, or daughters of Lamos, who were river nymphs. But Hera drove the Lamides mad, and caused them to attack Dionysus, who was rescued by Hermes. Hermes next brought the infant to Ino for fostering by her attendant Mystis, who taught him the rites of the mysteries Dionysiaca 9. In Apollodorus' account, Hermes instructed Ino to raise Dionysus as a girl, in order to hide him from Hera's wrath.
Hermes adopted the form of Phanes , most ancient of the gods, and so Hera bowed before him and let him pass. Hermes gave the infant to the goddess Rhea , who cared for him through his adolescence. Another version is that Dionysus was taken to the rain- nymphs of Nysa , who nourished his infancy and childhood, and for their care Zeus rewarded them by placing them as the Hyades among the stars see Hyades star cluster. In yet another version of the myth, he is raised by his cousin Macris on the island of Euboea. Dionysus in Greek mythology is a god of foreign origin, and while Mount Nysa is a mythological location, it is invariably set far away to the east or to the south. As it is, the Greek story has it that no sooner was Dionysus born than Zeus sewed him up in his thigh and carried him away to Nysa in Ethiopia beyond Egypt ; and as for Pan , the Greeks do not know what became of him after his birth.
It is therefore plain to me that the Greeks learned the names of these two gods later than the names of all the others, and trace the birth of both to the time when they gained the knowledge. The Bibliotheca seems to be following Pherecydes, who relates how the infant Dionysus, god of the grapevine, was nursed by the rain-nymphs, the Hyades at Nysa. Young Dionysus was also said to have been one of the many famous pupils of the centaur Chiron. According to Ptolemy Chennus in the Library of Photius, "Dionysus was loved by Chiron, from whom he learned chants and dances, the bacchic rites and initiations.
When Dionysus grew up, he discovered the culture of the vine and the mode of extracting its precious juice, being the first to do so;  but Hera struck him with madness, and drove him forth a wanderer through various parts of the earth. In Phrygia the goddess Cybele , better known to the Greeks as Rhea, cured him and taught him her religious rites, and he set out on a progress through Asia teaching the people the cultivation of the vine. The most famous part of his wanderings is his expedition to India , which is said to have lasted several years.
According to a legend, when Alexander the Great reached a city called Nysa near the Indus river , the locals said that their city was founded by Dionysus in the distant past and their city was dedicated to the god Dionysus. Another myth according to Nonnus involves Ampelus , a satyr , who was loved by Dionysus. As related by Ovid , Ampelus became the constellation Vindemitor , or the "grape-gatherer": . The origin of that constellation also can be briefly told. Upon him the god bestowed a vine that trailed from an elm's leafy boughs, and still the vine takes from the boy its name. While he rashly culled the gaudy grapes upon a branch, he tumbled down; Liber bore the lost youth to the stars.
The Fates granted Ampelus a second life as a vine, from which Dionysus squeezed the first wine. Returning in triumph to Greece after his travels in Asia, Dionysus came to be considered the founder of the triumphal procession. He undertook efforts to introduce his religion into Greece, but was opposed by rulers who feared it, on account of the disorders and madness it brought with it. In one myth, adapted in Euripides ' play The Bacchae , Dionysus returns to his birthplace, Thebes , which is ruled by his cousin Pentheus.
Pentheus, as well as his mother Agave and his aunts Ino and Autonoe , disbelieve Dionysus' divine birth. Despite the warnings of the blind prophet Tiresias , they deny him worship and denounce him for inspiring the women of Thebes to madness. Dionysus uses his divine powers to drive Pentheus insane, then invites him to spy on the ecstatic rituals of the Maenads , in the woods of Mount Cithaeron. Pentheus, hoping to witness a sexual orgy , hides himself in a tree. The Maenads spot him; maddened by Dionysus, they take him to be a mountain-dwelling lion , and attack him with their bare hands.
Pentheus' aunts and his mother Agave are among them, and they rip him limb from limb. Agave mounts his head on a pike, and takes the trophy to her father Cadmus. The madness passes. Dionysus arrives in his true, divine form, banishes Agave and her sisters, and transforms Cadmus and his wife Harmonia into serpents. Only Tiresias is spared. Dionysus fled and took refuge with Thetis , and sent a drought which stirred the people to revolt. The god then drove King Lycurgus insane and had him slice his own son into pieces with an axe in the belief that he was a patch of ivy, a plant holy to Dionysus. An oracle then claimed that the land would stay dry and barren as long as Lycurgus lived, and his people had him drawn and quartered.
Appeased by the king's death, Dionysus lifted the curse. This story is told in Homer's Iliad 6. In an alternative version, sometimes depicted in art, Lycurgus tries to kill Ambrosia, a follower of Dionysus, who was transformed into a vine that twined around the enraged king and slowly strangled him. The Homeric Hymn 7 to Dionysus recounts how, while he sat on the seashore, some sailors spotted him, believing him a prince. They attempted to kidnap him and sail away to sell him for ransom or into slavery. No rope would bind him. The god turned into a fierce lion and unleashed a bear on board, killing all in his path. Those who jumped ship were mercifully turned into dolphins. The only survivor was the helmsman, Acoetes , who recognized the god and tried to stop his sailors from the start.
In a similar story, Dionysus hired a Tyrrhenian pirate ship to sail from Icaria to Naxos. When he was aboard, they sailed not to Naxos but to Asia, intending to sell him as a slave. This time the god turned the mast and oars into snakes, and filled the vessel with ivy and the sound of flutes so that the sailors went mad and, leaping into the sea, were turned into dolphins. In Ovid 's Metamorphoses , Bacchus begins this story as a young child found by the pirates, but transforms to a divine adult when on board.
Many of the Dionysus myths involve the god, whose birth was secret, defending his godhead against skeptics. Malcolm Bull notes that "It is a measure of Bacchus's ambiguous position in classical mythology that he, unlike the other Olympians, had to use a boat to travel to and from the islands with which he is associated". In that sense, it serves as final proof of his divinity, and is often followed by his descent into Hades to retrieve his mother, both of whom can then ascend into heaven to live alongside the other Olympian gods.
Pausanias , in book II of his Description of Greece , describes two variant traditions regarding Dionysus' katabasis , or descent into the underworld. Both describe how Dionysus entered into the afterlife to rescue his mother Semele, and bring her to her rightful place on Olympus. To do so, he had to contend with the hell dog Cerberus , which was restrained for him by Heracles. After retrieving Semele, Dionysus emerged with her from the unfathomable waters of a lagoon on the coast of the Argolid near the prehistoric site of Lerna , according to the local tradition. According to Paola Corrente, the emergence of Dionysus from the waters of the lagoon may signify a form of rebirth for both him and Semele as they reemerged from the underworld.
According to the Christian writer Clement of Alexandria , Dionysus was guided in his journey by Prosymnus or Polymnus, who requested, as his reward, to be Dionysus' lover. Prosymnus died before Dionysus could honor his pledge, so to satisfy Prosymnus' shade, Dionysus fashioned a phallus from an olive branch and sat on it at Prosymnus' tomb. This same myth of Dionysus' descent to the underworld is related by both Diodorus Siculus in his first century BC work Bibliotheca historica , and Pseudo- Apollodorus in the third book of his first century AD work Bibliotheca.
In the latter, Apollodorus tells how after having been hidden away from Hera's wrath, Dionysus traveled the world opposing those who denied his godhood, finally proving it when he transformed his pirate captors into dolphins. After this, the culmination of his life on earth was his descent to retrieve his mother from the underworld. He renamed his mother Thyone , and ascended with her to heaven, where she became a goddess. Dionysus discovered that his old school master and foster father, Silenus , had gone missing. The old man had wandered away drunk, and was found by some peasants who carried him to their king Midas alternatively, he passed out in Midas' rose garden.
The king recognized him hospitably, feasting him for ten days and nights while Silenus entertained with stories and songs. On the eleventh day, Midas brought Silenus back to Dionysus. Dionysus offered the king his choice of reward. Midas asked that whatever he might touch would turn to gold. Dionysus consented, though was sorry that he had not made a better choice. Midas rejoiced in his new power, which he hastened to put to the test. He touched and turned to gold an oak twig and a stone, but his joy vanished when he found that his bread, meat, and wine also turned to gold. Later, when his daughter embraced him, she too turned to gold. The horrified king strove to divest the Midas Touch , and he prayed to Dionysus to save him from starvation.
The god consented, telling Midas to wash in the river Pactolus. As he did so, the power passed into them, and the river sands turned gold: this etiological myth explained the gold sands of the Pactolus. When Hephaestus bound Hera to a magical chair, Dionysus got him drunk and brought him back to Olympus after he passed out. When Theseus abandoned Ariadne sleeping on Naxos, Dionysus found and married her. She bore him a son named Oenopion, but he committed suicide or was killed by Perseus. In some variants, he had her crown put into the heavens as the constellation Corona; in others, he descended into Hades to restore her to the gods on Olympus. Another account claims Dionysus ordered Theseus to abandon Ariadne on the island of Naxos, for Dionysus had seen her as Theseus carried her onto the ship and had decided to marry her.
Dionysus, as patron of the Athenian dramatic festival, the Dionysia , wants to bring back to life one of the great tragedians. After a poetry slam , Aeschylus is chosen in preference to Euripides. Psalacantha , a nymph, failed to win the love of Dionysus in preference to Ariadne, and ended up being changed into a plant. Dionysus fell in love with a handsome satyr named Ampelos , who was killed.
He was changed into a grape-vine or grape gathering constellation upon death. There are two versions of his death. In Dionysiaca , Ampelos is killed by Selene due to him challenging her. Upon death, he is turned into a Constellation. Lycurgus  was a king of Edonia in or somewhere in the region of west Asia. He drove Dionysus and his nurses fleeing from their home on Mount Nysa to seek the refuge with Thetis. Due to this, he was punished by being driven mad. He hacked apart his own wife and child because of the madness induced belief they were spreading vines, and later driven from his home and was devoured by wild beasts on Mt Pangaios. Callirrhoe was a Calydonian woman who scorned Coresus , a priest of Dionysus, who threatened to afflict all the women of Calydon with insanity see Maenad.
The priest was ordered to sacrifice Callirhoe but he killed himself instead. Callirhoe threw herself into a well which was later named after her. The earliest cult images of Dionysus show a mature male, bearded and robed. He holds a fennel staff, tipped with a pine-cone and known as a thyrsus. Later images show him as a beardless, sensuous, naked or half-naked androgynous youth: the literature describes him as womanly or "man-womanish". His procession thiasus is made up of wild female followers maenads and bearded satyrs with erect penises ; some are armed with the thyrsus , some dance or play music.
The god himself is drawn in a chariot, usually by exotic beasts such as lions or tigers, and is sometimes attended by a bearded, drunken Silenus. This procession is presumed to be the cult model for the followers of his Dionysian Mysteries. Dionysus is represented by city religions as the protector of those who do not belong to conventional society and he thus symbolizes the chaotic, dangerous and unexpected, everything which escapes human reason and which can only be attributed to the unforeseeable action of the gods.
Dionysus was a god of resurrection and he was strongly linked to the bull. In a cult hymn from Olympia , at a festival for Hera, Dionysus is invited to come as a bull; "with bull-foot raging". Walter Burkert relates, "Quite frequently [Dionysus] is portrayed with bull horns, and in Kyzikos he has a tauromorphic image", and refers also to an archaic myth in which Dionysus is slaughtered as a bull calf and impiously eaten by the Titans. His iconography sometimes include maenads , who wear wreaths of ivy and serpents around their hair or neck. Peters suggests the original meaning as "he who runs among the trees", or that of a "runner in the woods". Janda accepts the etymology but proposes the more cosmological interpretation of "he who impels the world- tree".
This interpretation explains how Nysa could have been re-interpreted from a meaning of "tree" to the name of a mountain: the axis mundi of Indo-European mythology is represented both as a world-tree and as a world-mountain. Dionysus is also closely associated with the transition between summer and autumn. In the Mediterranean summer, marked by the rising of the dog star Sirius , the weather becomes extremely hot, but it is also a time when the promise of coming harvests grow. Late summer, when Orion is at the center of the sky, was the time of the grape harvest in ancient Greece. Plato describes the gifts of this season as the fruit that is harvested as well as Dionysian joy. Pindar describes the "pure light of high summer" as closely associated with Dionysus and possibly even an embodiment of the god himself.
An image of Dionysus' birth from Zeus' thigh call him "the light of Zeus" Dios phos and associate him with the light of Sirius. The god, and still more often his followers, were commonly depicted in the painted pottery of Ancient Greece , much of which made to hold wine. But, apart from some reliefs of maenads , Dionysian subjects rarely appeared in large sculpture before the Hellenistic period, when they became common. The Furietti Centaurs and Sleeping Hermaphroditus reflect related subjects, which had by this time become drawn into the Dionysian orbit. The Dionysian world by the Hellenistic period is a hedonistic but safe pastoral into which other semi-divine creatures of the countryside have been co-opted, such as centaurs , nymphs , and the gods Pan and Hermaphrodite.
They have in common with satyrs and nymphs that they are creatures of the outdoors and are without true personal identity. Dionysus appealed to the Hellenistic monarchies for a number of reasons, apart from merely being a god of pleasure: He was a human who became divine, he came from, and had conquered, the East, exemplified a lifestyle of display and magnificence with his mortal followers, and was often regarded as an ancestor. The fourth-century AD Lycurgus Cup in the British Museum is a spectacular cage cup which changes colour when light comes through the glass; it shows the bound King Lycurgus being taunted by the god and attacked by a satyr; this may have been used for celebration of Dionysian mysteries.
Elizabeth Kessler has theorized that a mosaic appearing on the triclinium floor of the House of Aion in Nea Paphos , Cyprus, details a monotheistic worship of Dionysus. The mid-Byzantine Veroli Casket shows the tradition lingering in Constantinople around AD, but probably not very well understood. Bacchic subjects in art resumed in the Italian Renaissance , and soon became almost as popular as in antiquity, but his "strong association with feminine spirituality and power almost disappeared", as did "the idea that the destructive and creative powers of the god were indissolubly linked".
The statue aspires to suggest both drunken incapacity and an elevated consciousness, but this was perhaps lost on later viewers, and typically the two aspects were thereafter split, with a clearly drunk Silenus representing the former, and a youthful Bacchus often shown with wings, because he carries the mind to higher places. Flemish Baroque painting frequently painted the Bacchic followers, as in Van Dyck's Drunken Silenus and many works by Rubens ; Poussin was another regular painter of Bacchic scenes.
A common theme in art beginning in the sixteenth century was the depiction of Bacchus and Ceres caring for a representation of love — often Venus, Cupid, or Amore. This tradition derived from a quotation by the Roman comedian Terence c. Its simplest level of meaning is that love needs food and wine to thrive. Artwork based on this saying was popular during the period —, especially in Northern Mannerism in Prague and the Low Countries , as well as by Rubens.
Because of his association with the vine harvest, Bacchus became the god of autumn, and he and his followers were often shown in sets depicting the seasons. Dionysus has remained an inspiration to artists, philosophers and writers into the modern era. In The Birth of Tragedy , the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche proposed that a tension between Apollonian and Dionysian aesthetic principles underlay the development of Greek tragedy ; Dionysus represented what was unrestrained chaotic and irrational, while Apollo represented the rational and ordered.
This concept of a rivalry or opposition between Dionysus and Apollo has been characterized as a "modern myth", as it is the invention of modern thinkers like Nietzsche and Johann Joachim Winckelmann , and is not found in classical sources. However, the acceptance and popularity of this theme in Western culture has been so great, that its undercurrent has influenced the conclusions of classical scholarship. Nietzsche also claimed that the oldest forms of Greek Tragedy were entirely based upon the suffering Dionysus. In The Hellenic Religion of the Suffering God , and Dionysus and Early Dionysianism , the poet Vyacheslav Ivanov elaborates the theory of Dionysianism , tracing the origins of literature, and tragedy in particular, to ancient Dionysian mysteries.
Ivanov said that Dionysus' suffering "was the distinctive feature of the cult" just as Christ's suffering is significant for Christianity. Walt Disney depicted Bacchus in the " Pastoral " segment of the animated film Fantasia , as a Silenus -like character. In , an adaption of The Bacchae was performed, called Dionysus in ' A film was made of the same performance. The production was notable for involving audience participation, nudity, and theatrical innovations.
The musical keeps the descent of Dionysus into Hades to bring back a playwright; however, the playwrights are updated to modern times, and Dionysus is forced to choose between George Bernard Shaw and William Shakespeare. The song invokes themes from the god's cult. The entire album is described as "short, sharp, and ultimately memorable, glowing with a long-forgotten disco-synth energy. Musician Brendan Perry described the inspiration for the album as a trance-like, "Dionysian" experience he had at a festival during a trip to rural Spain. They're all over the Mediterranean in remote places where Christian influence hasn't been as great. People wear masks and dance in circles almost like time has stood still in their celebrations.
The band's leader RM in a press release described the song as, "the joy and pain of creating something" and "an honest track". Numerous scholars have compared narratives surrounding the Christian figure of Jesus with those associated with Dionysus. Some scholars of comparative mythology identify both Dionysus and Jesus with the dying-and-rising god mythological archetype. The two stories take place in very different historical and geographic contexts.
Also, the manner of death is different; in the most common myth, Dionysus was torn to pieces and eaten by the titans , but "eventually restored to a new life" from the heart that was left over. Another parallel can be seen in The Bacchae where Dionysus appears before King Pentheus on charges of claiming divinity, which is compared to the New Testament scene of Jesus being interrogated by Pontius Pilate. The discrepancies between the two stories, including their resolutions, have led many scholars to regard the Dionysus story as radically different from the one about Jesus, except for the parallel of the arrest, which is a detail that appears in many biographies as well. Kessler has argued that the Dionysian cult developed into strict monotheism by the fourth century AD; together with Mithraism and other sects, the cult formed an instance of "pagan monotheism" in direct competition with Early Christianity during Late Antiquity.
Such comparisons surface in details of paintings by Poussin. John Moles has argued that the Dionysian cult influenced early Christianity, and especially the way that Christians understood themselves as a "new" religion centered around a savior deity. In particular, he argues that the account of Christian origins in the Acts of the Apostles was heavily influenced by Euripides ' The Bacchae. The Dionysus Cup , a sixth-century BC kylix with Dionysus sailing with the pirates he transformed to dolphins. Statue of Dionysus in Remich Luxembourg.
A Bacchus themed table - the top was made in Florence c. Bacchus — Giovanni Francesco Romanelli seventeenth century. Cult mask of Dionysus from Boeotia , fourth century BC. Marble statuette of Dionysos, early third century B. C, Metropolitan Museum. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Redirected from Dionysos. Ancient Greek god of winemaking and wine. This article is about the Greco-Roman deity. For other uses of the names "Dionysus" and "Dionysos", see Dionysos disambiguation. For other uses of the theophoric name "Dionysius", see Dionysius disambiguation. For other uses, see Bacchus disambiguation. For the genus of beetles, see Bassareus beetle. God of the vine, grape-harvest, wine-making, wine, fertility, ritual madness, religious ecstasy, theatre.
Second-century Roman statue of Dionysus, after a Hellenistic model ex-coll. Cardinal Richelieu , Louvre . Main article: Cult of Dionysus. Sacred Places. Sacred Islands. Sacred Mountains. Rites of passage. Hellenistic philosophy. Other Topics. Main article: Dionysia. Main articles: Dionysian Mysteries and Orphism religion. Main article: Bacchanalia. Main article: Jesus Christ in comparative mythology. Ancient Greece portal Myths portal Religion portal. University of Michigan Press. ISBN Brill Publications. Retrieved Burkert, p. For the initiate as Bacchus, see Euripides , Bacchae In Euripides , Bacchae — : "He holds this office, to join in dances,  to laugh with the flute, and to bring an end to cares, whenever the delight of the grape comes at the feasts of the gods, and in ivy-bearing banquets the goblet sheds sleep over men.
Archibald, in Gocha R. Tsetskhladze Ed. Ancient Greeks west and east , Brill, , pp. Algora Press. Gotham Books. To the Cynic Heracleios. Dionysos in Archaic Greece. JSTOR History of the Theatre. Dionysism and Comedy. Rowman and Littlefield. Tesis doctoral, Universidad Complutense de Madrid. Grant Roman mythographer C2nd A. When Oeneus realized this, he voluntarily left the city and pretended to be performing sacred rites. But Liber [Dionysos] lay with Althaea, who became mother of Dejanira. Kerasos was probably connected with, if not the same as, King Oineus.
The last son Keramos Wine Storage-jug founded the pottery works of the Athenian Keramaikos, producing the bulk of the storage vessels used in the ancient wine-trade. Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae 1. Gullick Greek rhetorician C2nd to 3rd A. Enekheis quoting Aristophanes, Plutus trans. For Staphylos, the beloved of Dionysos, lived on Thasos; and because of this Thasian wine is distinctive. To them he gave a skin full of wine as a gift and bade them spread the use of it in all the other lands. Word study tool of ancient languages. November 2, Archaeology News Network.The lesson, Comparing Wollstonecraft And Rousseau course, is that women ruin everything. If Ajax: The Ideal Greek Hero are looking for an eternally faithful hunting companion, name him Sirius after the dog star. Ajax: The Ideal Greek Hero Rawlinson Translation. And, when it Ajax: The Ideal Greek Hero down to it, I can only enjoy Ajax: The Ideal Greek Hero many war scenes. Distributed Leadership Styles In Early Childhood on a Science of Mythology Reprint ed.