Okay. I am terribly amused.
I chose the swarthy fellow in the jester’s cap to illustrate this post because I’d always understood Mórychos to be a Dionysian epiklesis from Syracuse meaning “the Dark One” and his sinister expression conveyed all the right notes (sexy, mysterious, slightly menacing and mad, etc.) The clown thing was just icing on the cake.
Well, as it turns out the image was more appropriate than I guessed!
Or icing is more important than it seems!
Morychos, you see, was a proverbial buffoon; people would say, “stupider than Morychos” as in this quip recorded by Zenobios:
You are more stupid than Morychos, who got rid of his furniture and now has to sit outside his house.
He seems to have started off as a 5th century tragedian whom Aristophanes mocked for his gluttony in The Peace; after that the character took on a life of it own.
According to Thomas Horn he’s alive and well today as the Spirit of Mardi Gras:
In Syracuse, Dionysus was known as Dionysus Morychos (“the dark one”) a fiendish creature; roughly equivalent to the biblical Satan, who wore goatskins and dwelt in the reqions of the underworld. In the scholarly book, Dionysus Myth And Cult, Walter F. Otto connected Dionysus with the prince of the underworld. He wrote: “The similarity and relationship which Dionysus has with the prince of the underworld (and this is revealed by a large number of comparisons) is not only confirmed by an authority of the first rank, but he says the two deities are actually the same. Heraclitus says, ‘Hades and Dionysus, for whom they go mad and rage, are one and the same.'”
But the Hebrews considered the magic (witchcraft) of the Bacchae (the female followers of Dionysus) to be the best evidence of Dionysus’ Satanic connection, and, while most of the details are no longer available because of the fact that Dionysus was a mystery god and his rituals were thus revealed to the initiated only, the Hebrew prophet Ezekiel described the “magic bands” (kesatot) of the Bacchae, which, as in the omophagia, were used to capture (magically imprison) the souls of men. We read, “Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold I am against your magic bands [kesatot] by which you hunt lives [souls] there as birds, and I will tear them off your arms; and I will let them go, even those lives [souls] whom you hunt as birds” (Ez. 13:20 NAS).
The kesatot was a magic arm band used in connection with a container called the kiste. Wherever the kiste is inscribed on sarcophagi and on Bacchic scenes, it is depicted as a sacred vessel (a soul prison?) with a snake peering through an open lid. How the magic worked and in what way a soul was imprisoned is still a mystery. Pan, the half-man/half-goat god (later relegated to devildom) is sometimes pictured as kicking the lid open and letting the snake (soul?) out. Such loose snakes were then depicted as being enslaved around the limbs, and bound in the hair, of the Bacchae women. The demon Pan, the serpents, the imprisoned souls, and the magic Kesatot and Kiste, were evidently perceived by the prophet Ezekiel as an effort of the Bacchae to mystically imprison the souls of men through magic and sensuality. Also, Pan was beloved of Dionysus for his pandemonium (“all the devils”) which struck panic and/or pleasure in the hearts of men and beasts. Does the same spirit reside over New Orlean’s Mardi Gras, Rio’s Carnival, and Sydney’s Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras? It appears to this writer that an equally tenacious effort on the part of modern Bacchae to embrace the will of evil supernaturalism exists.
It’s funny, I’ve been getting pinged for a while to start working more with the Harlequinade portion of Dionysos’ Retinue, and (once the monotheist lunacy and historical innacuracies/misrepresentations have been filtered out) I’d say this is a pretty strong confirmation and ties things together rather nicely. (Hahaha. Get it? Ties. Kesatot. I slay me.)
Oh, this should make Anthesteria extra fun this year.
Take it away, Crispin: