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Dionysos vs Apollo.docx

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Alexis Young

Dionysos and Apollo: Irrational versus Rational. These two Olympian deities appear to be opposites of each other, each of which needs to be honoured by mortals in order to sustain “normal” human life. Demonstrate which of their myths best illustrate their opposition, what its nature is, and how the myths suggest it should be resolved. Dionysos Background: ● Birth in Ovid's Metamorphoses ○ Zeus disguised as a mortal impregnated Semele; was killed by Zeus, appearing in his real form, after instigations of disguised Hera to Semele (wanted him to appear to her as he did to Hera) ○ Hermes saves the fetus and gives it to Zeus to sew it into his thigh ● Dionysus born 3 months later (twice born - diplogennemenos) ○ Although he had a male mother he was not seen as merely a demi-god ● Attributes: ○ Kantharos: drinking cup ○ Crown of ivy ○ Thyrsos: staff with pine cone on top ○ In some areas known as dendrites "he of the trees" ○ Feline attributes: panther/leopard ○ Wine = ambivalent - for enjoyment but cause mental debilitation ● Bacchae - women possessed by Dio; sometimes called maenads ● Satyrs - male devotees of Dionysos ● Festival of Anthesteria, Athens: associated with the new wine each year and a springtime arrival of Dio from across the sea ● God of: drama, wine, intoxication, and creative ecstasy Evidence of Irrationality ● He was sensitive to those who resisted him as a god and resisted his cult/teachings ● Myth of Lykourgas, in Thrace: driven mad and eaten/torn apart by horses ○ Tried to take Dio prisoner but Dio took refuge with Thetis’ mother Nereid; then Dio returns to Thrace and drives Lykourgas mad to the point where he cuts off the legs of his own son ● Minyads (daughters of king Minyas) of Orchomenos, Boetia ○ Minyads refused to participate in the worship of Dio; criticized those who did participate ○ Guys and girls warned the Minyads of their falling ○ Dio turned into a panther, lion, and bull right before their eyes; filled with the sound of drums and symbols ○ Threads of the loom turned into vines; Minyads turned on one child and ate her; they remained wing monsters - like bats or owls ● In Homeric Hymn to Dionysos ○ Dio is kidnapped by pirates who do not believe he is a god ○ Turned himself into a lion and a bear; the sailors are so frightened that they jump overboard ■ “But the god became a lion, an awful lion high up on the ship, and he roared at them terribly” ● In Euripides’ Bacchae ○ Named for chorus of foreign women/maenads celebrating rites of Bacchus/Dionysos ○ Play set in Thebes, chosen by Dionysos as first Greek city to establish his rites ○ Present king Pentheus (cousin of Dio, so of Agave, sister of Semele) refuses to recognise that Dio is a god ○ Wants to prove that he is a god after all, must uphold his mother’s name Semele ○ First Episode ■ Motive for the recognition of Dio is fear because both of them know that dancing is an obligation to joining Dio’s cult (237-247) ■ Pentheus tries to be logical; relies on common sense; for him, there is no room for divinity - the Dio he knows is dead ■ Tiresias unsuccessful in persuading Pentheus to worship Dio, though he reminds hims of the fate of Actaeon who committed hubris and suffered sparagamos as his punishment (foreshadowing) (320-337) ○ Second Episode ■ Dio is arrested without resistance and interrogated by Pentheus ■ Dio says to Pentheus: “Your lack of faith blurs your vision” ○ Third Episode ■ Palace miracles - when Pentheus’ supposedly trying to imprison Dio but is actually a bull; Pentheus still in total denial about Dio’s god identity ■ Pentheus - the women are a great shame among the Greeks; the violence is Dio’s, not the women ■ Dio makes a last attempt at peaceful resolution by advising Pentheus to sacrifice himself ○ Fourth Episode ■ Pentheus perceives Dio in a guise of a bull ○ Fifth Episode ■ Messenger talks about gruesome death of Pentheus torn apart (sparagamos) by mother Agave and her sisters ■ Pentheus dies with his mind clear as the ancient idea of revenge demands - he has recognized his mistakes - hamartia ■ Dionysos justifies himself: ● ...I was mocked at, chained, thrown into prison. Men like Pentheus wh
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