dionysus myth and cult pdf

Dionysus myth and cult pdf

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Redefining Dionysos

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Walter F. Otto’s Dionysos (1933)

His thyrsus , sometimes wound with ivy and dripping with honey, is both a beneficent wand and a weapon used to destroy those who oppose his cult and the freedoms he represents. As Eleutherios "the liberator" , his wine, music and ecstatic dance free his followers from self-conscious fear and care, and subvert the oppressive restraints of the powerful.

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Detail from a wine cup attributed to Phei- dippos ca. Walterus Otto summarum artium liberalium litterarum studiis utriusque linguae perfecte eruditus, musarum semper amator, v.

Te di manes tui ut quietam patiantur atque ita tueantur optamus. Otto I. Preface 2. The Birthplace of the Cult of Diony sus 3. The Son of Zeus and Semele 4. The Myths of His Epiphany 5. The God Who Comes 6.

The Symbol of the Mask 7. Pandemonium and Silence 8. The World Bewitched 9. The Somber Madness Modern Theories The Mad God The Vine.. Dionysus Revealed in Vegetative Nature Dionysus and the Element of Moisture Diony sus and the Women The Fate of Dionysus Dionysus and Apollo Detail from a wine cup.

Plate No. Maenads in ecstasy before Dionysus column. Maenads ladling out wine before Dionysus column. Maenads dancing at the festival of Dionysus. An altar to Semele and her sisters. Maenad dancing before Dionysus mask. Maenad with thyrsus and leopard cup. Hermes bringing new-born Dionysus to nymphs. The panther of Dionysus. A maenad dancing. Dionysus as seafarer. The Exekias cup. Dionysus in a ship with bow shaped like an ass's head.

Dionysus and Ariadne accompanied by satyrs. Dionysus and a satyr. Can your mystic voices tell us Where ye hide? In floating islands, With a wind that evermore Keeps you out of sight of shore? Pan, Pan is dead. But let Plutarch tell the story Philip is speaking ; As for death among such beings [i. The father of Aemilianus the orator, to whom some of you have listened, was Epitherses, who lived in our town and was my teacher in grammar.

He said that once upon a time, in mak- ing a voyage to Italy, he embarked on a ship carrying freight and many passengers. It was already evening when, near the Echinades Islands, the wind dropped, and the ship drifted near Paxi. The name is given to either of two small islands between Corcyra and Leucas off the west coast of the Greek Peloponnesus.

Suddenly from the island of Paxi was heard the voice of someone loudly calling Thamus, so that all were amazed. Thamus was an Egyptian pilot, not known by name even to many on board. Twice he was called and made no reply, but the third time he answered; and the caller, raising his voice, said, "When you come opposite to Palodes, announce that Great Pan is dead.

Under the circumstances Thamus made up his mind that if there should be a breeze, he would sail past and keep quiet, but with no wind and a smooth sea about the place, he would announce what he had heard. So, when he came opposite Palo des, and there was neither wind nor wave, Thamus, from the stern, looking toward the land, said the words as he had heard them: "Great Pan is dead.

Later, however, Christian legend 3 was to suggest that Pan had died on the very day when Christ had mounted the cross. It is this later tradition which leads to the hymn of triumph with which Mrs.

Browning's poem ends: Oh brave poets, keep back nothing, Nor mix falsehood with the whole! The translation is by Frank C. Babbitt LCL, London, , pp. For this, see G. XI One god had been substituted for another, but the world of godhead remained inviolate. It is far different today in what has been called "The Post- Christian Era. These are the revolutions in thought led by Darwin, Marx, and Freud-the revolutions which came with the exploitation of the concepts of the theory of evolution, of the social nature of man, and of the unconscious.

Twentieth-century intellectual man has increas- ingly divorced himself from his former identity as homo religioszts and has embraced instead a philosophy of the non- transcendent. The non-religious man the term would mean almost nothing in the ancient world has become a reality. Mircea Eliade has done much to characterize him: The non-religious man refuses transcendence, accepts the relativity of "reality" and may even come to doubt the mean- ing of existence Modern non-religious man assumes a new existential situation; he regards himself solely as the subject and agent of history, and he refuses all appeal to transcendence.

In other words, he accepts no model for hu- manity outside the human condition as it can be seen by the various historical situations. Man makes himself, and he only makes himself completely in proportion as he desacralizes himself and the world.

The sacred is the prime obstacle to his freedom. He will become himself only when he is totally demysticized. He will not be truly free until he has killed the last god. Trask, tr. New York, , pp. It would be idle to deny that the scholarship devoted to the history of religions has escaped the effect of the gradual disappearance of this vision. To be sure, the first religions to be affected were the "nature" religions of primitive society which existed without a dogma of revelation.

The presup- positions inherent in the evolutionary thesis which argued for a progression from the simple and the naive, from uni- cellular structures to more complex catena-like structures, had already discredited the ethical values to be found in these earlier religions, and had left them to the mercy of the rather crude experiments in interpretation to which they were now subjected. Approached in a rationalistic way, they were subjected to the animistic theories of the great Tylor, the pre-animistic theories of Codrington and Marett, the Durkheimean social theories which believed society had deified itself.

In fact, with Durkheim, society had finally be- come God. But the most devastating attack on the mythic awareness of the world of the Thou was to come from the psycho- s. Quoted by R. The thesis of Th. But the psychologIsts WIth Freud 10 the lead were to attempt to prove the Kantian view "that God was not an external substance but only a moral condition within us.

The passage, so often repeated in his works since Totem and Taboo , makes rather quaint reading today, in spite of the devastating influence it has had. Take, for example, one of Freud's final works, Moses and Mono- theism , which is quite typical of his addiction to othesis regardless of the nature of the source. J In it he ha sal : From Darwin I borrowed the hypothesis that man origi- nally lived in small hordes, each of the hordes stood under the rule of an older male, who governed by brute force, appropriated all the females, and belabored or all the young males, including his own sons.

From Atkmson I re- ceived the suggestion that this patriarchal came. Following Robertson Smith's totem theory I suggested that the horde, previously ruled by the father, was by a totemistic brother clan. In order to be able to hve m peace with one another the victorious brothers renounced the women for whose sake they had killed the father, and agreed to practice exogamy. The power of the. The ambivalence of the sons toward the father remained in force 7. Vintage Books, New York, , pp.

Instead of a father, a certain animal was declared the totem; it stood for their ancestor and protecting spirit, and no one was allowed to hurt or kill it.

Once a year, however, the whole clan as- sembled for a feast at which the otherwise revered totem was torn to pieces and eaten. No one was permitted to ab- stain from this feast; it was the solemn repetition of the father-murder, in which social order, moral laws and re- ligion had their beginnings.

S ' Religion, in short, was the indirect result of a traumatic accident out of which man invented a "god" to meet his "needs. It was because he "remained infantile and needed protection even when he was fully grown; he felt he could not relinquish the support of his god. Somehow or other, the rich tapestry of mythic occurrences and the mystical experiences of mankind seemed inexplicable if they were subjected to rational explanations of this type.

My italics. Freud, cited, p. These fantasy pictures undoubtedly have their closest analogies in mythological types. We must, therefore, assume that they correspond to certain collective and not personal structural elements of the human psyche in gen- eral and, like the morphological elements of the human body, are inherited.

All archetypes are, however, "manifestations of processes in the collective unconscious," and do not refer to anything "that is or has been conscious, but to something essentially unconscious.

Redefining Dionysos

Detail from a wine cup attributed to Phei- dippos ca. Walterus Otto summarum artium liberalium litterarum studiis utriusque linguae perfecte eruditus, musarum semper amator, v. Te di manes tui ut quietam patiantur atque ita tueantur optamus. Otto I. Preface 2.

His birth alone sets him apart. Snatched prematurely from the womb of his dying mother and carried to term by his father, he was born from the paternal thigh. Perceived as both man and animal, male and effeminate, youthful as well as mature, he is the most versatile and elusive of all Greek gods. His myths and cults are often violent and bizarre, a threat to the established social order. He represents an enchanted world filled with extraordinary experiences. Always on the move, he is the most epiphanic god, riding felines, sailing the sea, and even wearing wings.

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Dionysus: Myth and Cult

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Walter F. Otto’s Dionysos (1933)

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Myth , a symbolic narrative, usually of unknown origin and at least partly traditional, that ostensibly relates actual events and that is especially associated with religious belief. It is distinguished from symbolic behaviour cult, ritual and symbolic places or objects temples, icons.

Dionysus. Myth and Cult- Walter F. Otto


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