Five or six years ago I came across this quote. It interested me for very different reasons back then. I posted it to the blog, but didn’t put it in any of my quote files and consequently lost track of it after one of my scrubs. A fact I repeatedly regretted as I got deeper and deeper into Starry Bear stuff. All I could recall was that this messianic Bacchic figure started out somewhere in Russia or Germany; I couldn’t even have told you whether the anecdote was in Livy or Ammianus, hence my difficulty in tracking it down. But here it is:
Shortly before this a man that many said was a daimon — though he himself claimed to be the famous Alexander of Macedon and resembled him in looks and general attire — set out from the regions along the Ister, after somehow or other making his appearance there. He made his way through Moesia and Thrace performing Bacchic rites. He was accompanied by as many as four hundred men equipped with Bacchic wands and fawn-skins, but they harmed no one. In fact all in Thrace at the time agreed that bed and board would be provided for the man and his company at public expense. And no one — no governor, soldier, procurator or local magistrate — dared to confront or contradict him. He traveled the whole time as if in a solemn procession as far as Byzantium and then, taking ship, he made his way to the region of Chalcedon where he performed some sacred rites by night, buried a wooden horse, and then vanished completely, never to be heard from again. (Cassius Dio, Roman History 80.18.1-3)
That’s hella significant, actually. The horse burial alone stands out in ways it most certainly did not the first time around.