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Lecture 5

Week 5 - Dionysus.docx

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Classical Studies
CLAS 2000
John Walsh

MONDAY – February 3, 2014 Dionysus (Bacchus) • His appearance: o He had a slender, youthful appearance (although his physical appearance was very similar toApollo, he had more of a feminine appearance) o He’s often seen leaning on a vine (grape vine) o Apollonian and Dionysian o Both gods of music  Apollo associated more with the opera – calm, settle  Dionysus associated more with raves, concerts – dancing, letting loose • He was the god of wine. He was also related to the growth of the earth, wine making and wine drinking. He was a very passionate god. His Birth • Europa attracted the attention of Zeus. He disguised himself as a white bull and abducted her to the island of Crete • She had a brother named Cadmus who was sent by their father (Agenor of Tyre) to find her in the Greek world. He went to Delphi to visit the oracle of Apollo. He asked the oracle where his sister was and what he should do. • The Pythia went into her trance and told him to forgot about his sister and abandon the quest. • She went on to tell him about a new quest she should embark on. He was to find a sacred cow and wherever the cow laid down he must build a city o He would know it was “the cow” by the half moon birthmark it had. He followed the cow to Boeotia, sacrificed it cow and built the city. • He had found the city of Thebes, a city in Boeotia, central Greece. • Semele was a woman who was very beautiful who lived in Thebes • Zeus seduced Semele and of course Hera went ragging and was very furious. • She punished Semele o she appeared to her as an old woman and tricked Semele (young girls were believed to be naïve and easily tricked) into getting Zeus to reveal his true form. o Hera knew that Zeus was so glorious and magnificent that no human could look at him with their bare eyes (hence the reason why he always disguises himself). With reluctance Zeus showed his true form and Semele went bursting into flames. o Howver, Zeus realized she was pregnant so he plucked out the developing child from the womb (likeApollo did) and sewed the child into his thigh o Wine crater – mixing bowl used to dilute wine with water. The Greeks diluted their wine. The Macedonian were the only ones that drank undiluted wine. o Dimetor Birth of Dionysus/Zagreus (another version) • He was not born from Semele he was born from Persephone • Hera was very jealous of the child so she wanted him to die o Hera lured him with toys and had him murdered by the Titans; they ripped his body a part and ate him. o Zeus however saved Dionysus’ heart which is what was sown to his leg and he was reborn o Due to his anger, Zeus blasted all the titans with his thunderbolt and used the ashes to create human o This is why Greeks believed humans could be corrupt as they were made from the ashes of the Titans but due to the fact that they consumed the body of baby humans could be noble. His childhood • Young Dionysus was given into the custody of Hermes who then gave the young child to Ino (Semele’s sister) and of group of nymphs • He was raised away from Greeks. He was raised in Nysa (perhaps India, somewhere in the East) • He was raised in the East and brought back with him to Greece the knowledge of grapes and its growth o He is often shown in the company of animals that are not common in the Greece world such as cheetahs, jaguars not eagles. o He is also seen in the company of nymphs • His is associated with being the god that allowed the Greeks to release the tension they had from their orderly lives by drinking and having fun. o Music is associated with his worship o Thyrsus – a long staff • Maenads/Bacchae o Omophagy – a ritual (drinking, dancing, eating) where they would throw an animal into the middle, rip the animal to pieces with their bare hands and eat the flesh o They also, surrounded themselves with satyrs who would sometimes get out of control with their excessive drinking and would have affairs with animals His affairs and such • Ariande/Thesus o Dionysus was associated withAriande, o Ariande helped Thesus kill the minotaur. She gave him the sword and told him how to get out of the maze. She gave him a ball of string to attach to the door of the labyrinth. o Thesus abandoned her on the island of Naxos where she wept until she was saved by the arrival of Dionysus. • Dionysus was abducted by pirates (mistaken for a girl) o Those who did not except him as a god jumped in the ocean and turned into dolphins. Those who did except him, he brought them happiness and peace. Considered to be the first “salvation” god. o SIDE NOTE: Julius Caesar was also abducted by pirates. He demanded that they ask his parents for more ransom money. When they let him go, he told them that he would be back to kill them. He found them, crucified all the pirates and he had all their legs broken. • The people of Thebes had been ridiculing Dionysus’ mother saying she didn’t really have sex with a god. • Also, because of King Pentheus’ persuasion the people of city did not want to worship Dionysus, they refused him. • To punish King Pentheus for refusing his divinity o Dionysus appeared to King Pentheus in a disguise and went on to tell him how the people who worshiped Dionysus essentially were very sexual and crazy. o Of course he wanted to see for himself, so Dionysus handed him the skin of a deer and told him to hide in the woods so he could spy on the Maenads. o The Maenads mistaked him for an animal and commenced the omophagy ritual. They stuck his head on a stick and paraded into town. o The Bacchae is the tragedy based on this mythological story • Dionysus and Midas o Dionysus was always surrounded by a lot of drunken people. In particular Silenus (a fat drunk man). In a drunken stupor, he went into Midas’(the guy with the ears of a donkey) temple and passed out. o Midas found him the next day and returned him to Dionysus but Dionysus knew that Midas was only returning him for his own benefit, his own greed. o He wished to Dionysus so that everything he ever touched would turn into gold. EVERYTHING, not just things he wished to turn to gold. His daughter and his food all turned into gold. o He went back to Dionysus and said he learned his lesson. Unlike other gods would give that person their wish for all eternity, Dionysus told him to go down to Pactolus river and wash his mistake off. • Pan Syrinx - he chased her and eventually she was turn into reeds) • Echo – she was an annoying nymph. Hera cursed her so that she could only repeat the words of other. • Narcissus - a young beautiful man who was in love with his own beauty and rejected the possibility of loving others. One day, h
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