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Montclair GNHU 282 - Dionysus, and his People

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David ManeiroDavid ManeiroGNHU 282-07 | E. J. TheodoracopoulosDIONYSUS, AND HIS PEOPLE Museum Research ProjectDavid ManeiroGNHU 282-07 E. J. TheodoracopoulosMuseum Research Project12/18/17Dionysus, and his People Dionysus a nature god of fruitfulness and vegetation, especially known as a god of wine and ecstasy, but to learn about the people who followed Dionysus we must first learn about Dionysus himself. Dionysus was the son of Zeus and Semele, a daughter of Cadmus, the king of Thebes. Dionysus was almost killed before his birth. Herm, wife of Zeus, wanted to show Semele that her lover was a god, so to prove her point Herm asked Zeus to come down from Olympus in his true form which proved to be too much for Semele, as she was blasted with thunderbolts. However, Zeus saved his son by sewing him up in his thigh and keeping him thereuntil he reached maturity. Dionysus has been around for some time, the occurrence of his name on a Linear B tablet shows that people have been worshipping Dionysus since the 13th century BCE, the Mycenaean period. However, it is not known where his cult originated. In all the legends of his cult, he is depicted as having foreign origins.As Dionysus apparently represented the sap, juice, or lifeblood element in nature, lavishfestal orgia in his honor were widely instituted, an orgia was a form of worshipping that was typical for mystery cults such as that of Dionysus. An orgia in honor of the god Dionysus was usually referred to as a Dionysia, or a Bacchanalia. These Dionysia quickly won converts among women. In fact, Dionysias were at first held in secret, attended by women only, on three days of the year. In fact, Dionysus was so spiritually intoxicating that in the early days of Dionysias, it would make the women run up to the hills, wearing fawn skins and crowns of ivy and shouting the ritual cry, “Euoi!” Forming thyai, holy bands, and waving thyrsoi, fennel wands bound with grapevine and tipped with ivy. The women would dance by torchlight to the rhythm of the aulosand the tympanon, instruments used in the Dionysias. While under Dionysus intoxication, participants of the Dionysia believed to possess occult powers and the ability to charm snakes and suckle animals, as well as preternatural strength that enabled them to tear living victims to pieces, which happened once. In Thebes Dionysus was opposed by Pentheus, his cousin, who was torn to pieces by Dionysus’s followers when he attempted to spy on their activities. Dionysus’s followers would usually sacrifice animals as they believed that he incarnated the sacrificial beast. In addition to the sacrificing and ritual dancing these Dionysias had a reputation for being orgies, led to a decree of the Roman Senate that prohibited the Dionysiasthroughout Italy, except in certain special cases. Nevertheless, Dionysias long continued in the south of Italy.Works CitedThe Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. “Bacchanalia.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 27 Sept. 2011, www.britannica.com/topic/Bacchanalia.The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. “Dionysus.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 19 Sept. 2016,


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