Monday, January 24

The Rites Of Dionysus The God Of Wine

Dionysus Greek God
I came across Dionysus today, known as Bacchus by the Romans, so I took a few photos of him and his goings on.

Maenads dancingThe name Dionysus goes way back to the Greeks who worshipped him back in 1500 BC as the God of the wine harvest.

As a Greek God Dionysus is a creature of mystery and a personification of nature. In my pictures he is shown as a bull but is also sometimes seen as a lion, a serpent or a virile youth.

The Maenads who worshipped Dionysus danced and writhed through the vines to the sound of trumpets and the beat of the drums. The rabbits heads in the photo above show that this was also a sacrificial rite.

In the photo below he is surrounded by the Bacchanal, a group of women who roamed the mountains in a trance. At the height of ecstasy they would seize an animal, tear it apart and eat it raw. They did this to commune with the Gods' flesh and blood.

Dionysus rite
I suppose I'd better add that the figures are all made of bronze, don't want to give any wrong impressions!

The Temptation
Twist like serpents
Wines that intoxicate
And promise love
Where love is not.
- Annamaria Murphy
The Dionysus story is perhaps the most powerful which links mankind to the grapevines. It not only gives an insight into the customs and beliefs of an ancient civilisation, but also tell us something about the unchanging nature of the human condition.

The scenes of divine possession, madness, sacrifice, death and orgiastic rites echo the mayhem and breakdown of civil order when war, or other events, rips apart a country.

The Rites of Dionysus gives shape and form to the powerful forces beneath the everyday life of civilised reality; and the forces that reflect our essence and what we are capable of.

Dionysus and Bacchanal women
The photos were taken at the Eden Project near to where I live in Cornwall. This is a global eco-garden with huge biomes for tropical and other plants. A must visit if you are ever in the area.

Further Reading:
The Cornish Mystery Of The Trevethy Quoit
Following In The Footsteps Of St Michael
Cornish Mystery Of The Men-an-Tol Stones

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  1. Impressive! Eden Project looks like a very cool place. Those statues are really something, too, so much detail.

  2. neat post, mike - i never tire of hearing the ancient tales - and this one illustrated with such magnificent statues - or - are they? statues? ;)

    wv here is "ophedrop" - not sure what it means, but interesting -

  3. once again so interesting.....I love your posts!

  4. Trish and Rob: Karin and I are always visiting the Eden project - we have a yearly pass. We've watched it develop from an old clay pit to what it is today.

    Gypsywoman: "...or are they?" Now that would be telling! ;)

    Neva: Thanks for saying that.