Important notice: the date of the Pannychis of Ariadne has been changed

When I was coming up with the list of festivals for the thiasos of the Starry Bull I put a lot of thought into their dates. Lenaia and Anthesteria were kept on the lunar system, as this is both traditional and an integral component of them (especially in the case of Anthesteria) whereas most of the others were given according to the more familiar solar, Gregorian calendar. These dates were not random.

The Feast of the Dionysian Martyrs (though it commemorates all those who have given up their lives for the god) is when the Senatus Consultum de Bacchanalibus was declared, resulting in the death, torture or enslavement of thousands. The Feast of the Dionysian Artists and the Feast of the Dionysian Prophets (though again intended to honor all who fall within those categories) are the anniversaries of the birth and death of Jim Morrison respectively. August 13th was chosen for the Hekatesia since a lot of this goddess’ contemporary devotees already honor her on this day. In a couple instances (Agrionia and Hermaia) I took a previously lunar festival and gave them a solar anchor. In the case of Anthesphoria I combined elements of a festival observed by the Greeks in Sicily and Southern Italy with a Roman festival for Ceres and Proserpina described by Ovid in his Fasti, giving it the latter date since our sources are vague on when the Anthesphoria was observed. Ovid was likewise the basis for the Agonalia (with some influence from Virgil) and the Liberalia and the Pannychis of Ariadne:

As soon as night falls you will see the Cretan Crown: through Theseus’ crime Ariadne was made a goddess. She’d already happily exchanged that faithless spouse for Bacchus, she who’d given the ungrateful man the thread to follow. Delighting in her wedded fate she said, ‘Why did I weep like a country-girl, his faithlessness has been my gain?’ [...] She spoke: Liber had been listening a long while to her complaint, since he chanced to follow closely. He embraced her, and dried her tears with kisses, and said: ‘Together, let us seek the depths of the sky! You’ll share my name just as you’ve shared my bed, since, transmuted, you will be called Libera and there’ll be a memory of your crown beside you, the crown Vulcan gave to Venus, and she to you.’ He did as he said, and changed the nine jewels to fire: now the golden Crown glitters with nine stars.

Though I intended to combine it with elements from the Cyprian festival described by Plutarch:

There are many other stories about these matters, and also about Ariadne, but they do not agree at all. Some say that she hung herself because she was abandoned by Theseus; others that she was conveyed to Naxos by sailors and there lived with Oinaros the priest of Dionysos, and that she was abandoned by Theseus because he loved another woman. [...] A very peculiar account of these matters is published by Paion the Amathusian. He says that Theseus, driven out of his course by a storm to Kypros, and having with him Ariadne, who was big with child and in sore sickness and distress from the tossing of the sea, set her on shore alone, but that he himself, while trying to succour the ship, was borne out to sea again. The women of the island, accordingly, took Ariadne into their care, and tried to comfort her in the discouragement caused by her loneliness, brought her forged letters purporting to have been written to her by Theseus, ministered to her aid during the pangs of travail, and gave her burial when she died before her child was born. Paion says further that Theseus came back, and was greatly afflicted, and left a sum of money with the people of the island, enjoining them to sacrifice to Ariadne, and caused two little statuettes to be set up in her honor, one of silver, and one of bronze. He says also that at the sacrifice in her honor on the second day of the month Gorpiaios, one of their young men lies down and imitates the cries and gestures of women in travail; and that they call the grove in which they show her tomb, the grove of Ariadne Aphrodite. Some of the Naxians also have a story of their own, that there were two Minoses and two Ariadnes, one of whom, they say, was married to Dionysos in Naxos and bore him Staphylos and his brother, and the other, of a later time, having been carried off by Theseus and then abandoned by him, came to Naxos, accompanied by a nurse named Korkyne, whose tomb they show; and that this Ariadne also died there, and has honors paid her unlike those of the former, for the festival of the first Ariadne is celebrated with mirth and revels, but the sacrifices performed in honor of the second are attended with sorrow and mourning. (Life of Theseus 20.1-5)

As well as incorporating elements from a Delian festival described by Plutarch:

On his voyage from Crete, Theseus put in at Delos, and having sacrificed to the god and dedicated in his temple the image of Aphrodite which he had received from Ariadne, he danced with his youths a dance which they say is still performed by the Delians, being an imitation of the circling passages in the Labyrinth, and consisting of certain rhythmic involutions and evolutions. This kind of dance, as Dicaearchus tells us, is called by the Delians The Crane, and Theseus danced it round the altar called Keraton, which is constructed of horns (kerata) taken entirely from the left side of the head. He says that he also instituted athletic contests in Delos, and that the custom was then begun by him of giving a palm to the victors.

And this passage by Quintus Smyrnaeus:

Two great silver bowls those which Euneus, Jason’s warrior son in sea-washed Lemnos to Achilles gave to ransom strong Lykaon from his hands. These had Hephaistos fashioned for his gift to glorious Dionysos, when he brought his bride divine to Olympos, Minos’ child far-famous, whom in sea-washed Dia’s isle Theseus unwitting left. Dionysos brimmed with nectar these, and gave them to his son; and Thoas at his death to Hypsipyle with great possessions left them. She bequeathed the bowls to her godlike son, who gave them up unto Achilles for Lykaon’s life. (Fall of Troy 4. 430 ff)

While I was putting together a rough outline for this festival I decided to go back and read the remainder of Ovid’s account which I omitted from the above quotation.

And it’s a good thing that I did, too, because I’m not really comfortable with the aition that he provides for this festival:

Meanwhile Bacchus had conquered the straight-haired Indians, and returned with his riches from the Eastern world. Among the captive girls, of outstanding beauty, one, the daughter of a king, pleased Bacchus intensely. His loving wife wept, and treading the curving shore with dishevelled hair, she spoke these words: ‘Behold, again, you waves, how you hear my complaint! Behold again you sands, how you receive my tears! I remember I used to say: “Perjured, faithless Theseus!” He abandoned me: now Bacchus commits the same crime. Now once more I’ll cry: “Woman, never trust in man!” My fate’s repeated, only his name has changed. O that my life had ended where it first began. So that I’d not have existed for this moment! Why did you save me, Liber, to die on these lonely sands? I might have ceased grieving at that moment. Bacchus, fickle, lighter than the leaves that wreathe your brow, Bacchus known to me in my weeping, how have you dared to trouble our harmonious bed by bringing another lover before my eyes? Alas, where is sworn faith? Where the pledges you once gave? Wretched me, how many times must I speak those words? You blamed Theseus and called him a deceiver: according to that judgement your own sin is worse. Let no one know of this, let me burn with silent pain, lest they think I deserved to be cheated so! Above all I wish it to be hid from Theseus, so he may not joy in you as a partner in crime. I suppose your fair lover is preferred to a dark, may fair be the colouring of my enemies! Yet what does that signify? She is dearer to you for that. What are you doing? She contaminates your embrace. Bacchus, be true, and do not prefer her to a wife’s love. I am one who would love my husband for ever. The horns of a gleaming bull captivated my mother. Yours, me: but this is a love to be praised, hers shameful. Let me not suffer, for loving: you yourself, Bacchus, never suffered for confessing your desire to me. No wonder you make me burn: they say you were born in fire, and were snatched from the flames by your father. I am she to whom you used to promise the heavens. Ah me, what a reward I suffer instead of heaven!’

While this is an important part of the mythological traditional it is not something I really want to emphasize as part of a festival intended to glorify the Mistress of the Labyrinth and Queen of the Bacchants so to avoid the association I’m moving the festival to the date cited by Plutarch, the second of Gorpiaios. This is a Makedonian month name which corresponds to the Attic Metageitnion or Briseusion on the Bacchic calendar I came up with for 2014 using divination.

That means that instead of March 8th we will now be observing the Pannychis of Ariadne on the evening of August 28th through the 29th this year.

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One thought on “Important notice: the date of the Pannychis of Ariadne has been changed

  1. This pleases me, since it puts it much more in line with the festival I created for Ariadne in the summer. Summer just feels right.


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