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Lecture 20

Classical Studies 2200 Lecture 20: Classics Lecture 20 - Mar 14
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Department
Classical Studies
Course Code
Classical Studies 2200
Professor
Aara Suksi

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Tuesday, March 14, 2017 Classics Lecture 20 Euripides’ Bacchae - Dionysus on Stage. - REVIEW ON DIONYSUS: • Greek (and Foreigner) • Boundary dissolver - Travels out of Greece to grow up. - Many texts recognize the values in being a boundary- dissolver, there are other representations that are very rigidly attached to ideals of boundaries: i.e. human vs. god, male vs female, etc. Therefore, many acts of resistance against Dionysus due to these issues. He • is threatened many times. • Many myths of resistance to the god and punishment of theomachoi - What we should respect, what we should be afraid of • Specific rituals - sparagmos: sacrificing of a live victim and tearing them apart - omophagia: consuming a live victim - phallophoria: a public parade through the city featuring an erect phallus with an honoured person granted the opportunity to ride through the city atop the phallus. • Also addressed as Bromius, 1 Tuesday, March 14, 2017 Bacchus • Thiasos of bacchants or maenads, satyrs • BROMIUS, BACCHUS = FEMALES | SATYRS = MEN • Dioysus of Zeus’ thigh vs. Son of Semele (mortal woman). - Because he is born again through the thigh of Zeus, his mortality is “burned away” and he is made fully divine. • Thyrsus • Mythic Representations of Dionysus — we know he was actually honoured in a traditional way. - Cadmus: The Sown Men — Spartoi • Finds the land where a cow is laying down, slays a dragon, and plants the dragon’s teeth in the soil. The teeth grow into an army of “sown men”. - Long staff with pinecone at end — the fertility of Dionysus and everything he is associated with. - HISTORICAL CONTEXT: ANXIETY ABOUT RELIGIOUS BELIEFS AND BEHAVIOUR • Introduction of new religious cults into Athens - MOTHER GODDESS OF ASIA MINOR, for instance. • Violation of Eleusinian Mysteries (consisting of impious seeing or performing). Alcibiades and others 415 BCE. - Not preserved the secrecy of these mysteries: performed a parody of the mysteries during a dinner party in a private home. - Alcibiades was charged, alongside others. • A serious crime, brings the displeasure of Demeter against the Athenians. • Also charged with the destruction of the statues of Hermes at the same time. • Charges against Socrates 399 BCE: - Not believing in the city’s gods - Introducing new gods - Corrupting the youth 2 Tuesday, March 14, 2017 - nostos of Dionysus (in human disguise) • His intentions: - Establishment of his cult in Greece • Foreign qualities of the great mother goddess cult - Demonstration of his divinity • Assert within the civilians - Punishment of Theban royal family, who resist him. • First line, “I, Dionysus…” open introduction to the audience. - He talks about how his aunts did not believe that Semele was impregnated by Zeus and her child was never immortal, this is blasphemy, and he banishes these women - Wants to vindicate his virgin mother, Semele • At this time, Pentheus is king but is very young — Dionysus presents himself in disguise as an animal - Dionysus the Stranger • Appears in human disguise (as a foreigner) • Appears in animal form (to Pentheus) • Appears in divine form (to Bacchants) • Cannot be confined or contained Unmoved in the face of threats or violence • • Miracles demonstrate his power - His divinity is recognized by the common people - A democratic god - 2 Groups of Maenads in this Play: • Chorus: Pious Asian followers of Dionysus - provide information about cultic details - choral hymns in honour of the god and his blessings 3 Tuesday, March 14, 2017 - Rites similar to those of Phrygian Great Mother goddess Cybele/Rhea - Ecstasy of being engaged in this cult • Liberation and freedom for “a young girl” engaged in the cult of Dionysus • Impious Theban women, maddened by Dionysus - Driven mad by Dionysus, typically royals - including Agave and her sisters - Taken them out into the wilderness, on the mountain with the intention of punishing them. - Tiresiasappears on stage • He is always wise: whatever he says is going to be true, he is a signpost for the audience of what is proper belief. •
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