Dionysus: Myth and Cult

Dionysus: Myth and Cult

Walter F. Otto

Language: English

Pages: 288

ISBN: 0253208912

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Dionysus: Myth and Cult

Walter F. Otto

Language: English

Pages: 288

ISBN: 0253208912

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


"This study of Dionysus... is also a new theogony of Early Greece." ―Publishers Weekly

"An original analysis... of the spiritual significance of the Greek myth and cult of Dionysus." ―Theology Digest

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thinking of her when he tells of the abandoned Ariadne,1o who follows her faithless lover with sorrowing eyes as she stands on the reedy shore "like the picture of a maenad."ll Indeed, melancholy silence becomes the sign of women who are possessed by Dionysus. Silent melancholy characters were said to behave like Bakchai because silence was a characteristic of theirs. 12 Aeschylus, in the Edonians, has given us a picture of the wild tumult of the Thracian orgy. According to him, the sound of the

ovulav). As a Dionysiac element this is revealed in the ivy, the snake-like plant, which grows ) ' 10 Dionysus as seafarer. Inside of a cup paint~d. by Exekias (Arias, A History of 1000 Years of Greek Vase Pamtmg, pp. 301-302, Pl. >..'VI; Beazley, ABFVP, p. 146, no. 21)._From the collection of the Staatliche Antikensammlungen, Mumch. (Ace. No. 2044) PLATE VEGETATIVE NATURE 151 green even in winter and recalls the mysteries of darkness and death in spite of its exuberantly growing

goddess of the dead. T hese elements of multiplicity and paradox point to the fact that she does not belong to the realm of Dionysus because of chance cult migrations and cult associations, 15 (as is generally believed today) but because of her very own essence. She never was the goddess who, one pretends today, could have once walked among the great gods of Greece as one of their peers. As a result of an a priori concept of what the cults of the gods mean, should we then carelessly push aside

darkness and the maternal depths in which all being is ground ed. In Apollo all of the splendor of the Olymp ic converges and. confro nts the realms of eternal becoming and eternal passmg. Apollo with Dionysus, the intoxicated leader of the choral dance .of th~ terrestrial sphere -that would give the total. world d1mensJOn. In this union the Dionysiac earthly duahty would be elevated into a new and higher duality, the eternal contras t between a restless, whirling life and a still ' far-seeing

Dionysus holds sway. Here we have not only the spectral presence of demonic beings of nature and the dead. 209 210 DIONYSUS The whole splendor of that which has been submerged draws imperatively near at the same time that it is lost in eternity. The wearer of the mask is seized by the sublimity and dignity of those who are no more. He is himself and yet someone else. Madness has touched him-something of the mystery of the mad god, something of the spirit of the dual being who lives in the

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