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Lecture 7

CLAS 1P95 Lecture Notes - Lecture 7: Senatus Consultum De Bacchanalibus, Oeneus, Anius

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Robert Jansen

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November 9: Dionysus- gettin’ cray
Jessica Falk
Artemis’ wildness is shared in the male deity:
Dionysus: vegetation god- wine
Roman, LIBER Bachus
“The Roarer”
The god of juice that comes out of living things: maple syrup, blood, nectar
Birth Story:
Son of Zeus and Semele
Semele is a Princess of Thebes, Hera’s trick results in her death: proves Zeus’s nomos
Dionysus has the wild side of Zeus that Zeus never portrays
“Twice Born”- born from Zeus’ thigh. Given to Semele’s sister Ino or to nymphs to hide
him from Hera
Mount Nysa: Hermes brought him here, hidden as a goat- hidden from Hera
Dionysus is rejected from his Theban family (Ino) and from the Olympians (Hera)
was kidnapped by pirates as a youth: he appears to most as a pretty youth
when wronged he displays his power forcefully
Dionysus travels with his followers from Greece to India and back
He associated with other cults: Cybele: mother goddess of Phrygia (central Turkey) was
a friend. The Greeks often identified her with Rhea, Zeus’ mother.
The Orphic Dionysus myth: Zagreus, an alternate myth. Zagreus was a son of Zeus and
Persephone. Hera arranged for some Titans to kill Zagreus. They ate most of him. Athena
saved his heart. She prepared a potion from it and gave it to Zeus.
Twice born Dionysus: Dual personalities of wine
Many different cults honoured Dionysus as a double god. He is very popular. Many places
claim him. Usually the double emphasis is on the good vs. the bad aspects of wine and other
intoxicants or Dionysus’ changeable personality. The Orphics, in contrast, emphasize that
Dionysus is a god of resurrection and the victory of life over death.
His entourage:
tigers, panthers, lions and leopards accompany him
rarely portrayed by himself
Maenads: female companions, freeing for Greek women
Thyrsus, a staff wrapped in ivy and often topped with a pine cone
Satyrs, male followers- Silenus is an old drunk who is Dionysus’ favourite
The double god: DIonysus represents grapes and wine and can give his followers plenty, ease
and happiness in a type of “party atmosphere”- rave. When rejected he is extremely vindictive
and destructive. For example: the party and the hangover.
An unrestrained cult:
Enthousiasmos (enthusiasm), the good in you
Ekstasis (ecstasy)- you stand outside yourself and escape your usual life and social role
all worshipper experience Dionysus personally and so differently
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