Dionysus the Thracian god - Greek mythology - The alter Dionysos: the Thracian god

Dionysus the Thracian god - Greek mythology - The alter Dionysos: the Thracian god

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Sick bacchus by Caravaggio (1571-1610),
Borghese Gallery, Rome (Italy)

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of Linda Torresin
PhD in Modern Languages, Cultures and Societies
Ca 'Foscari University (Venice), 825519
[email protected]

Dionysus as xenikós dáimōn

The Thracian Dionysus, as well as the Hellenic one, is a god who shows himself and hides himself. The epiphanies31 of Dionysus are typical: alongside Apollo32 - note M. Detienne - the most epidemic god of the pantheon is certainly Dionysus who is Act. Dionysus is the God who comes par excellence: he appears, manifests himself, comes to be recognized. An itinerant epiphany, Dionysus organizes the space according to his ambulatory activity. You find it everywhere; nowhere is he at home33.

In his wanderings, "whether he proceeds smiling, or gets angry, Dionysos always presents himself under the mask of the stranger", as "the god who comes from outside" 34, xénosThe olive wood mask (prósopon) portraying Dionysus found by the fishermen of Methymna35 returns the protean portrait of the god, at the same time a participant in Greekness and alien to it:

It is an image that proposes an enigma, an effigy to be deciphered, an unknown power to be identified. There is something divine in it, but a divine different from that in which the Hellenic gods participate. Different in the sense that there is something strange and foreign about this face, in accordance with the double meaning of the term xenos36.

Dionysus is xénos or xenikós dáimōn (foreign demon) as a “foreigner”, that is, a Greek citizen belonging to a nearby community to which one offers hospitality37, but also because he is “strange” 38.

"Through the mask that gives him his figurative identity Dionysus affirms his epiphanic nature of God who constantly oscillates between presence and absence" 39.

Dionysus, ancient relief (late 3rd - early 2nd century BC)
National Archaeological Museum of Siritide, Policoro (Matera), Italy

Celebrating the Trieterics

The parusias of Dionysus were the dominant mechanism of Trieteriche, ceremonies of Thracian origin celebrated in many areas of Greece every two years or, more precisely, at the beginning of the third year, which fell every two years of interruption of the calendar holiday cycle.

The Trieteriche were meant to commemorate the return (parousía) of Dionysus, symbol of the natural cycle of death and rebirth, in close connection with the agrarian world.40 According to ancient beliefs41, in fact, the god himself appeared among his worshipers in the form of a bull42. Taken from the divinemania, the faithful welcomed Dionysus, constituting his dancing procession thíasos43 Physical and psychic identification with the god was achieved thanks to the delivery of the raw meat of the sacrificed calves (diasparagmós) and to the animal disguise of the participants in the rite44.

While in the Dionysia, public and diurnal holidays, the Diónysos Hellenic wine and intoxication, the Trieteriche they can be considered a biennial celebration of the return of the souls of the dead, and as such they produce a precious testimony of Thracian religiosity45.

Dionysus, marble statue of the "Madrid-Varese type", Roman copy of a Greek original dated 125-100 BC. - Prado Museum, Madrid (Spain)

A complex god

Des traits qui, au premier abord, peuvent passer pour inconciliables parce qu'ilssemblent nous orienter dans des directions tout opposées, non seulement coexistent, mais, à une réflexion plus poussée sur ce qu'est une physionomie divine de ce genre, apparaissent complémentaires et en corrélation intime et profonde. Les affinitésde Dionysos du côté de la mythologie végétale le prédisposent, à coup sûr, à jouerle rôle d’un dieu du renouveau printanier. Mais il n'est nullement contradictoireque ce daïmôn, dont la présence se fait sentir dans la vie mystérieuse dont s'animepériodiquement la nature dans son aspect végétal, ne soit en même temps l'émissairedu monde souterrain où cette vie puignise sa source et des âmes défuntesqui sont cette vie même46.

The versatility of Dionysus makes him an elusive and complex god, difficult to investigate in all his manifestations47, but no less interesting and worthy of study.

The gap between our tools of approach and the ancient historical reality remains essentially unbridgeable.
This does not detract from the responsibility of each of us to confront each other with
of the ancient world, it survives in ours.
Reflecting on Dionysos and talking about Dionysos remains a duty and a challenge,
even if it will not be possible to grasp and assimilate the whole substance.

C. Isler-Kerényj, Dionysos in archaic Greece. The contributor of the images,
Pisa-Rome: International Publishing and Printing Institutes 2001, p. 26.

BIBLIOGRAPHYM. Detienne, Dionysus in the open air, trans. by M. Garin, Bari: Editori Laterza19882.
M. Detienne, Dionysos mis à mort, Paris: Gallimard 19982.
A. Fol, Trakijskijat Dionis, kn.1: Zagrej, Sofija: U. I. Sv. Kl. Ochridski 1991.
A. Fol, Trakijskijat orfizăm, Sofija: U. Ochridski 1986.
V. Fol, Antični ostatăci v običaja Kukerov den, in II meždunaroden kongres po bălgaristika.Dokladi. Folklor, t. 15, Sofija 1988, pp. 388-396.
F. Frontisi-Ducroux and J.-P. Vernant, Figures du masque en Grèce ancienne, in "Journalde Psychologie" 1983, pp. 53-69.
Ph. Gauthier, Notes sur l'étranger et l'hospitalité en Grèce et à Rome, in "Ancient Society", 4, 1973, pp. 1-21.
C. The contribution of images, Pisa-Rome: International Publishing and Polygraphic Institutes 2001.
H. Jeanmaire, Dionysos. Histoire du culte de Bacchus, Paris: Payot 1970.
K. Kerényi, Dionysus. Archetype of indestructible life, trans. by L. Del Corno, Milan: Adelphi Edizioni 1998super "> 3.
V. Macchioro, Zagreus. Studies on Orphism, Florence: Vallecchi Editore 1930.
K.O. Müller, Kleine Schriften, II, 1848.
W. F. Otto, Dionysos, Frankfurt am Main: Klostermann 20112.
A. Privitera, Dionysus in Homer and in archaic Greek poetry, Rome: Edizioni dell’Ateneo1970.
E. Rohde, Psyche. Seelencult und Unsterblichkeitsglaube der Griechen, Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft 1991, II.
J.-P. Vernant, Le Dionysos masqué des Bacchantes d’Euripide, in "L’homme", 93, 1985, pp. 31-58.
L. Weniger, Theophanien, altgriechische Götteradvente, Archiv für Religionswissenschaft– Freiburg im Breisgau-Berlin XXII 1923-1924.NOTE

31. The epiphany of a god is rendered in Greek by the terms epipháneia ed epidemic(see L. Weniger, Theophanien, altgriechische Götteradvente, Archiv für Religionswissenschaft - Freiburg im Breisgau-Berlin XXII 1923-1924, p.16 ff.).

32. "Apollon et Dionysos, entre autres traits communs ,offerent ce caractère d’êtretous deux des dieux à épiphanie, dont on célèbre périodiquement soit la venue dansleur sanctuaire, soit la manifestation parmi leurs fidèles" (H. Jeanmaire, op. cit., p. 37).

33. M. Detienne, Dionysus in the open cit., p. 11. The author continues: "There is an 'epidemic' drive in Dionysus that makes him something different from the other gods characterized by regular epiphanies, planned and always included in the order of the official feasts of the cult, each in its own time" (Ibid).

34. Ibid, p. 15.

35. See Pausanias, Periegesi of Greece X, 19, 3.

36. 16.

37. Ibid, pp. 16-18. V. Ph. Gauthier, Notes sur l'étranger et l'hospitalitéen Grèce et à Rome, in Ancient Society, 4, 1973, pp. 1-21. “Nowhere is Dionysus considered a barbarian god. Not even when his fury seems to relegate him definitively to barbarism "(M. Detienne, Dionysus in the open cit., p. 17), unlike, for example, the Artemide Orthia, whose statue drives the faithful crazy, who kill each other at the altar (cf. Ibid).

38. "It is the stranger who brings something strange with him" (Ibid, pp. 20-21).

39. Ibid, p. 18. On the symbolism of the mask v. W. Otto, Dionysos, Frankfurt am Main: Klostermann 20112, pp. 80-85; F. Vernant,Figures du masque en Grèce ancienne, in "Journal de Psychologie" 1983, pp. 53-69; J.-P. Vernant, The Dionysos masqué des Bacchantes of Euripides, in "L’homme", 93, 1985, pp. 31-58. According to K. Kerényi, the mask causes the wearer to become an intermediary between life and non-life: “The mask gave those who were not masked a strangely split perception of the living: it was at the same time extraordinarily close and distant. This was the feeling that the god himself must have caused, when he was just a face: when he appeared to men with human features he was perceived as one in whom the zōé manifested itself more immediately than in any other form of life and who was nevertheless a non-living was detached from all that lives ”(K. Kerényi, op. cit., p. 95).

40. "In the trietērís the periodicity of nature is interrupted, and in the space of a year the paradoxical meeting of life and death is realized in the sign of life ”(Ibid, p. 193).

41. Euripides, Bacchantes 920 ff., 1020 ff.

42. On the bull as a symbol of zōé or infinite life v. K. Kerényi, op. cit., pp. 69-71.

43. The dance allows the followers of Dionysus gathered in small groups - the bakcheía - to enter into ecstasy (cf. Plato, Ion 531 A). In the throes of vision and hallucinations, women perceive scents of Syria (cf. Euripides, Bacchantes142 ff., 106 ff.) And no longer feel the pain (cf. Ibid., 757 ff .; Ovid, Tristia4, 1, 41 ff .; Seneca, Troad. 628 ff.). L'enthousiasmós trieteric (invasion) can be traced back to shamanic practices for E. Rohde, op. cit., pp. 24-27.

44. On the Trieteriche v. 12 ff .; H. Jeanmaire, op. cit., pp. 170-174; K. cit., pp. 183-253.

45. The qualification of Dionysus Trietērikós as a god of the afterlife - at the basis of Thracian rituals - he finds a parallel in the Minoan world: in Crete Dionysius was considered the son of Zeus and Persephone; hence the appellation of Chthóniosor Underground (see Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca historica V, 75, 4; Firmicus Maternal, De error profanarum religionum VI, 5). The winter months in which the Bacchic feasts were placed were, not surprisingly, precisely those in which, in the vision of the ancients, the dark forces and the souls of the deceased appeared and visited the earth (cf. H. cit., P. 38).

46. Ibid, p. 55.

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