Ch10Dionysus

Ch10Dionysus - Classics 10: Chapter 10: Spring 2011 Myths...

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Classics 10: Chapter 10: Spring 2011 Myths of Fertility II: Dionysus I. The Many Facets of Dionysus (Bacchus) II. The Cult of Dionysus III. Dionysus and Tragedy: Euripides’ Bacchae
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Getting Your Exam Back • If you want your exam back, you have two options: • 1) Come to Jennifer’s office hours in 905 Sproul on Tuesday, 12:30-3:30pm • 2) email Jennifer ( [email protected] ) and ask her to bring your exam to lecture on Monday or Wednesday – She will be having further office hours if you want to discuss the questions or your answers
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First Exam Results • Median: 56 of 70 (80%) • Breakdown: 91 A’s, 82 B’s, 72 C’s, 90 below • 25 students earned A+ but 42 students failed (!) • I.e., those who studied did well (over one quarter of the class earned an A of some form) – Hence the scores are not curved, but extra credit questions will also occur on next two exams • But it seems that many did not study nearly hard enough: the course from here on is mostly stories; take the time to learn to tell them yourself (to your roommate, your mom, etc.)
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I. The Many Facets of Dionysus (Bacchus) • Most basic role: God of Wine – Taught how to turn grape juice into wine – Greeks drank wine every day, usually heavily diluted with water • Replaced Hestia among the 12 Olympians • Male fertility god: complements Demeter – Yet Dionysus inspires passion in the short term, while Demeter grows grain over a whole season • Symbols: ivy, phallus, horns of a bull – Wears leopard skin, panthers pull his chariot
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The Many Facets of Dionysus (Bacchus) • Cult of Dionysus celebrates his divinely inspired madness – Drinking, sex, violence as sensual pleasures • Often resisted, with violent results • Hard for rational Greeks to embrace their irrational selves in exuberant excess • Mythic biography must be pieced together from various sources Most significant source (a tragedy): Euripides’ Bacchae (first performored 406 BCE)
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Dionysus’ Birth and Early Youth • Semelê, Princess of Thebes, gets pregnant by Zeus, who appears to her as a mortal • Jealous Hera visits her in disguise and plants seed of doubt: Is it really Zeus? • Semelê then extracts one wish from Zeus: that he appear to her as he appears to Hera • Zeus is bound to honor her wish, which burns her to crisp; Hermes saves the fetus • Zeus sews the fetus into his thigh and gives birth to Dionysus three months later
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Birth and Early Youth • Dionysus then given to Ino, sister of Semelê and queen of Orchomenus (another city in Boeotia) • Dionysus disguised as a girl (feminine attire often associated with this male fertility god) • Hera not fooled, she drives Queen Ino and King Athamas insane; they kill their own children • Self-destructive violence already a major theme • Zeus changes Dionysus into a goat; Hermes then delivers him to the Nymphs of Nysa – Where Nysa is, nobody knows
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The Wanderings of Dionysus • In Nysa, Dionysus discovers how to turn grape
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This note was uploaded on 05/22/2011 for the course CLA 10 taught by Professor Traill during the Spring '08 term at UC Davis.

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Ch10Dionysus - Classics 10: Chapter 10: Spring 2011 Myths...

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