October 29- Dionysus and Bacchae

October 29- Dionysus and Bacchae - The Nature of Dionysus...

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Unformatted text preview: October 29, 2007 The Nature of Dionysus Dionysus, God of Wine Often depicted holding drinking horn and grape vine, wearing garland Hymn #7 in the collection of Homeric Hymns Late sixth/early fifth century BCE? St ory of c a p t ur e b y pir a t e s al s o m e n tio n e d b y Pin d a r (c. 5 1 8-lat e 4 4 0 s BCE) St ory ins pir e d b y p ai n tin g ? Hy m n s p r ai s e g o d s b y d e s c ribin g t h eir p o w e r s a n d n o t a bl e d e e d s ; w h a t a r e Dio n y s u s p o w e r s a n d d e e d s in t h e h y m n ? Ca n n o t b e b o u n d b y ro p e s ; c a u s e s win e t o flow fort h, g r a p e s a n d ivy gr o w o n a s hi p; t ur n s hi m s elf int o a lion, c a u s e s a b e a r t o a p p e a r, t ur n s pir a t e s int o d olp hi n s How d o t h e s e p o w e r s a n d d e e d s c h a r a c t e riz e Dio ny s u s ? A g o d w h o is s u bj e c t t o n o r e s tr ai n t s; a g o d w h o c a n pr o d u c e livin g pl a n t s w h e r e it is b a rr e n ( a s hi p m a d e of d e a d wo o d in t h e s alt s e a ); a g o o d w h o c o nf u s e s t h e b o u n d a r b e t w e e n a ni m al a n d h u m a n Euripid e s Bacchae , In c. 408 BCE, Euripides left Athens for the court of the king of Macedon; died there within two years Bacchae and two other plays discovered after his death; produced posthumously in Athens by his son (nephew?) and won first prize Ending of play partly lost Basic plot similar to that of Hippolytus: a god demands the worship due to him/her In Hippolytus, Aphrodite is embodiment of sexual desire; people who show no respect for the power of sexual desire suffer the consequences In Bacchae, what powerful force does Dionysus embody? Dionysus and Mountains Mountains constitute wilderness, the absence of civilization When people are in the mountains, they are less bound by the constraints imposed by civilization Hypothesis: `Dionysus is a god associated with release from the constraints of civilization' Dionysus and Release from Constraints Dionysus ads the god who breaks barriers and bursts bonds, who brings freedom from restraint Mou n t ai n s a n d t h e a b s e n c e of civiliz a tio n Win e a n d intoxic a tio n Diony s u s a n d t h e Rev e r s al of G e n d e r s Wo m e n a c t like m e n Le a v e h o m e s a n d w e a vin g; g o t o t h e wild er n e s s Me s s e n g e r # 1 : t h e wo m e n e x c el a t w a rf ar e (7 5 1-6 4); `wo m e n ro u t e d m e n !' (7 6 4) Ag a v e: t h e w o m e n e x c el a t h u n tin g (1 1 6 8-1 2 5 8); `it w a s I w h o left b e hi n d t h e s pi n dl e t h e loo m/ t o c o m e t o gr e a t e r t a s k s, t h e h u n tin g of wild b e a s t s wit h m y o w n h a n d s !' (1 3 7) Me n a c t like w o m e n - Initi al s c e n e b e t w e e n Pe n t h e u s a n d t h e Str a n g e r (4 5 3-5 1 8 ): Pe n t h e u s is t h e m a c h o ki a n d m o c k s t h e Str a n g e r for b ei n g eff e mi n a t e (4 5 3-5 9 ; cf. 2 3 3-4 0 ). How d o e s t hi s c h a Pe n t h e u s e n d s u p dr e s s e d a s a wo m a n ( d e s pit e hi s initi al r ef u s al: 8 2 2-3 9), wit h t h e Str a n g e r t o t ally in c o n tr ol (9 1 2-7 6 ) Th e Na t ur e of Diony s u s: A Hypo t h e si s Th e g o d w h o br e a k s b a rri er s, w h o fr e e s fro m r e s tr ai n t s, w h o bl ur s c a t e g o ri e s Civiliz a tio n im p o s e s r e s tr ai n t s; t h e a n ci e n t Gr e e k s d e e ply v al u e d civiliz a tio n, b u t al s o r e c o g niz e d t h a t its r e s tr ai n t s c o uld b e c o m e t o o rigid a n d o p pr e s siv e; Dio ny s u s e m b o t h e n e c e s s a r y r el e a s e fro m t h o s e r e s t r ai n t s Wh e n p e o pl e r ef u s e t o a c k n o wl e d g e t h e n e e d for t e m p o r a r y r el e a s e , it br e a k s o u t m o viol e n tly, a n d b e c o m e s d e s t r u c tiv e r a t h e r t h a n b e n efici al ...
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