Here are a pair of quotes I encountered today:
We hear of the Agrionia in Argos, however, that they were a festival of the dead. E. Rhode was right when he thought the same was true of the Boeotian Agrionia. Consequently we are again confronted by the fact of a festival which combines elements of both Dionysus and the dead. To be sure, it is supposed here, too, that Dionysus came later and forced himself on a festival which had previously existed as a festival of the dead. But there is nothing to recommend this supposition. Quite the contrary. The sources show quite clearly that the two cults – that of Dionysus and that of the dead – were inherently related and amounted basically to one cult. The Argive festival, which is characterized as a festival of the dead by the above-mentioned gloss of Hesychius, was held in honor of a daughter of Proteus, accoprding to a second gloss of Hesychius. Thus women are given a dominant position here, too, just as in the festivals of Boeotia, and in both festivals it was the women belonging to Dionysus’ circle who were in the foreground. When it is said that the Argive Agrionia were celebrated in honor of a daughter of Protesus, we must associate with this myth in which the daughters of Proteus, who were driven mad by Dionysos for the same reasons as the daughters of Minyas, were hunted down, and the oldest of them, Iphinoe, died as a result of this persecution. Women were hunted down in this was in the ritual of the Boeotian Agrionia, as we know, and this was not without its element of tragedy either, for the women were threatened with the sword, and when one of them could not save herself, she was killed.
- Walter Otto, Dionysus: Myth and Cult 118-119
The spider hides in the crack, in the tobacco leaves, in the faggots, in the cracks of the parched ground, in the dry stonewalls of the rural houses, but predominantly in the labyrinth of the mind. It bites at midday, like a meridian demon, arousing senses and unleashing unavowed desires. However, while the South American counterparts and the Latrodectus are large and lethal, the Italian Lycosa tarantula is a small, harmless spider. Therefore, what is interesting is that in most cases, no actual spider bit occurred. The phenomenon of possession of tarantism originated in the Middle Ages as a pagan ritual where music and dance acquired the therapeutic function to heal from the tarantuala bite and exorcize the inhibited Eros and forbidden expression of sexual desire. The origins, however, of the complex mythical ritual of tarantism trace back to the mysterious and ancient cults of possession, as well as the mythological pagan rites and orgiastic ceremonies of Magna Graecia. In this realm, it was believed that a greater force or spirit, divinity or mythical ancestor, entered a person’s soul and forced him to dance. The most immediate reference can be found in the Dionysian rituals during which the Bacchants, in the elation of the dance and euphoria of the wine received in their souls, temporariluy emptied of folly. The connection with tarantism is tenuous, but consistent and persistent – as in the eighteenth century the tarantati danced in the woods near springs or fountain, with wine leaves wound around their bodies, like country Maenads.
- Flavia Brizio-Skov, Popular Italian Cinema: Culture and Politics in a Postwar Society
Nothing new, in either case, but beautifully expressed nonetheless.