Emily Frances Pagrabs, Peter the Great and His Changing Identity
The tsar was known throughout Europe for his ability to drink. A contemporary said, “He didn’t miss a single day without getting drunk.” This came as no surprise to contemporaries, as alcohol had long been “the joy of the Russes.” Peter’s father, Alexei, and his boyars used to take pleasure in out-drinking the foreign diplomats. While this drunkenness seems to be a national trait, Peter seems to have been one of the best. Said historian Robert Massie, “When he was young, though, these wild bacchanalia did not leave Peter exhausted and debauched, but actually seemed to refresh him for the next day’s work. He could drink all night with his comrades and then, while they snored in drunken slumber, rise at dawn and leave them to begin work as a carpenter or shipbuilder. Few could match his pace.”
Peter amassed a collection of friends and created, at the age of eighteen, the Drunken Synod. Mocking the hierarchy and order of the church, the friends were organized into a college of cardinals, bishops, priests, and deacons. Peter took care in devising a system of rituals and ceremonies; for example, the first commandment was, “Bacchus be worshipped with strong and honorable drinking and receive his just dues.” Even as the tsar matured and became an emperor, he continued to participate in such games and behaviors, which were worse on holidays and at weddings. The foreigners who visited the tsar found the behavior “vulgar and scandalous,” unsuited to a man who proclaimed to be the emperor of Russia.
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7 thoughts on “Peter the Great Dionysian”
Io Peter the Great! I pray you wound up in Nysa so that we may join you in your legendary revelry!
I’m sure he has a standing invite, even if he ended up in Orthodox heaven.
I wonder what Orthodox heaven looks like. Hmmm…
Probably lots of gold, clanging bells and clouds of incense.
Is the ability to *hold your drink* a trait of those *called by Dyonisus?*
In some ATR’s there is a belief that human traits or behavior point to being called by an Orisha.
Not necessarily. Dionysians can differ greatly in regard to their consumption of alcohol, from self-destructive indulgence all the way to complete teetotalism. I’ve also seen folks who didn’t drink much (or at all) normally put back heroic quantities during ritual, especially when they are entheos. But in general we tend to have a reputation for imbibing, and rightly so since our God is in the alcohol.
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Our tolerance also fluctuates tremendously; I know Dionysians who can sniff a teaspoon of the stuff and be flying high; others, like myself, who can drink and drink and never get beyond a slight buzz. Unfortunately this extends in my case even to pain killers and anesthesia, which makes medical procedures super fun.
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