He took a face from the ancient gallery

Looks like Grigori Rasputin is winning the Dionysia poll with a whopping 2 votes!

Rasputin would indeed make a good subject for a play. I’d portray him as a surrogate sacred king slash pharmakos in addition to being a mendicant holy man, and have him warn that if an aristocrat sheds his blood it’ll bring great calamity upon the land (i.e. the Communist revolution.) There’ll also be a chorus of dancing and flagellating Khlysty ecstatics like the eponymous Asian Mainades of Euripides’ Bakchai

Of course I wouldn’t rule Aleksandr Dugin out just yet, considering he’s besties with Putin and you know how much Vladimir likes tampering with elections – almost as much as the DNC.

Although Dugin is often presented as a far-right or fascist intellectual literally hell-bent on destroying the West:

Finally, Heiser comments on Dugin’s worship of Chaos, and the adoption of the occult symbol of the eight-pointed “Star of Chaos” as the emblem (and, when inscribed in gold on a black background, the flag) of the Eurasianist movement.

“For Dugin, logos is replaced by chaos, and the very symbol of chaos magic is the symbol of Eurasia: ‘Logos has expired and we all will be buried under its ruins unless we make an appeal to chaos and its metaphysical principles, and use them as a basis for something new.’ Dugin dressed his discussion of logos in the language of Heidegger, but his terminology cannot be read outside of a 2,000-year-old Western, biblical tradition which associates the Logos with the Christ, and Dugin’s invocation of chaos against logos leads to certain inevitable conclusions regarding his doctrines.”

In short, Dugin’s Eurasianism is a satanic cult.

The truth, however, is something altogether very different as you can hear for yourself in this interview he gave.

Indeed, Joseph Gelfer posed the intriguing question:

Could it be that Dugin has been an undercover queer theorist all along and is playing a long game, positioning himself as an intellectual heavyweight on the far right in order to subvert it from within? If you think that is far-fetched, consider the following, as chronicled in Masha Gessen’s recent book, The Future is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia. Dugin’s first wife was Evgeniya Debryanskaya, who he taught English by reading the suspiciously queer The Picture of Dorian Gray. They eventually broke up, after which Evgeniya Debryanskaya went on to become a prominent feminist and LGBT activist in Russia. This part is not in Gessen’s book: shortly before they parted ways, the young couple made a pact: “Sasha, darling. I will fight openly for the rights of women and gay people. Your task is far more difficult. You must pretend to be an ultra-nationalist until the time is right. Then we will reveal to them the joy of androgyny and sex as practised by the angels.” Stranger things have happened.

It sounds pretty out there, but back in the 1980s Aleksandr Dugin was involved with a number of groups which comprised a mystical underground resistance movement fighting Soviet totalitarianism. As Charles Clover writes in Black Wind, White Snow: The Rise of Russia’s New Nationalism:

In 1980, in preparation for the Olympic Games in Moscow, police cleared the riff-raff from the streets, and it was strongly suggested that the group should move out of the capital. They found new beatnik digs at a dacha in the suburb of Klyazma. It was owned by Sergey Zhigalkin, a wiry and energetic man who made a name for himself translating Heidegger and publishing Golovin’s poetry.

While writing this book I met Zhigalkin. He offered to help recreate a typical (albeit much tamer) evening get-together of the mystical underground, taking me to the Klyazma dacha, which he still owns. We sat around a bonfire and drank cognac all night long, while he explained to me the magnetic, dark charisma of Golovin, who emerges from the tales of his followers much like the leader of a cult. ‘In Golovin’s presence the limits of the natural world fell away, the earth became a bigger place, a limitless place. It was like being flung out of a centrifuge. We used alcohol to start the energy, but Golovin could manipulate this  energy. He could destroy your perception of the world.’ 

One evening, a young man appeared at the Klyazma dacha, brought by an acquaintance. He looked no more than 18. His head was shaved, but he had an aristocratic bearing and a quick wit. He was immediately charismatic and came carrying a guitar. Strumming away around a bonfire in the evening sunset, he belted out a song: ‘Fuck the Damned Sovdep.’ Even by the extreme tastes of the mystical underground this was borderline stuff.


‘We all just fell down and worshiped him,’ said Dudinsky. ‘What a great song! He was like the messiah.’ He was Alexander Dugin, and he was the newest recruit to the Moscow mystical underground. A brilliant if uninformed teenager, he soon learned to idolize his guru, Golovin. Few people from those years have forgotten their first encounter with Dugin, who had a gift for making an entrance. […] Serebrov recalls meeting Dugin at Moscow’s Kievskaya metro-station:

A look of rapture came over Alexander’s face. He pulled a bottle of port wine out of his bag and threw it on the platform. “Sieg Heil! I make this sacrifice to the god Dionysus!” The bottle shattered into a million pieces, spreading a wave of port across the platform.

Tell me Aleksandr Dugin wouldn’t make a fascinating protagonist, especially if Gelfer is correct.

Though, personally, I’d prefer to do a play about Mithridates Eupator, King of Pontus, scourge of Rome and Neos Dionysos, with a keen interest in pharmakeia.

Or Skyles the Bacchic martyr-king, whose story is told in Herodotos’ Histories 4.78-80:

Such-like, then, was the fortune that befell Anacharsis, all for his foreign usages and his companionship with Greeks; and a great many years afterwards, Scyles, son of Ariapithes, suffered a like fate. Scyles was one of the sons born to Ariapithes, king of Scythia; but his mother was of Istria, and not native-born; and she taught him to speak and read Greek. As time passed, Ariapithes was treacherously slain by Spargapithes, king of the Agathyrsi, and Scyles inherited the kingship and his father’s wife, whose name was Opoea, a Scythian woman, and she bore to Scyles a son, Oricus. So Scyles was king of Scythia; but he was in no wise content with the Scythian manner of life, and was much more inclined to Greek ways, from the bringing up which he had received; so this is what he did: having led the Scythian army to the city of the Borysthenites (who say that they are Milesians) — having, I say, come thither, he would ever leave his army in the suburb of the city, but he himself, entering within the walls and shutting the gates would doff his Scythian apparel and don a Greek dress; and in it he went among the townsmen unattended by spearmen or any others (the people guarding the gates, lest any Scythian should see him wearing this apparel), and in every way followed the Greek manner of life, and worshipped the gods according to Greek usage. Then having so spent a month or more, he put on Scythian dress and left the city. This he did often; and he built him a house in Borysthenes, and married and brought thither a wife of the people of the country.

But when the time came that evil should befall him, this was the cause of it: he conceived a desire to be initiated into the rites of the Bacchic Dionysus; and when he was about to begin the sacred mysteries, he saw a wondrous vision. He had in the city of the Borysthenites a spacious house, great and costly (that same house whereof I have just made mention), all surrounded by sphinxes and griffins wrought in white stone; this house was smitten by a thunderbolt and wholly destroyed by fire. But none the less for this did Scyles perform the rite to the end. Now the Scythians make this Bacchic revelling a reproach against the Greeks, saying that it is not reasonable to set up a god who leads men on to madness. So when Scyles had been initiated into the Bacchic rite, some one of the Borysthenites scoffed at the Scythians: “Why,” said he, “you Scythians mock us for revelling and being possessed by the god; but now this deity has taken possession of your own king, so that he is revelling and is maddened by the god. If you will not believe me, follow me now and I will show him to you.” The chief men among the Scythians followed him, and the Borysthenite brought them up secretly and set them on a tower; whence presently, when Scyles passed by with his company of worshippers, they saw him among the revellers; whereat being greatly moved, they left the city and told the whole army what they had seen.

After this Scyles rode away to his own place; but the Scythians rebelled against him, setting up for their king his brother Octamasades, son of the daughter of Teres. Scyles, learning how they dealt with him and the reason of their so doing, fled into Thrace; and when Octamasades heard this he led his army thither. But when he was beside the Ister, the Thracians barred his way; and when the armies were like to join battle Sitalces sent this message to Octamasades: “Wherefore should we essay each other’s strength? You are my sister’s son, and you have with you my brother; do you give him back to me, and I give up your Scyles to you; and let neither of us endanger our armies.” Such was the offer sent to him by Sitalces; for Sitalces’ brother had fled from him and was with Octamasades. The Scythian agreed to this, and received his brother Scyles, giving up his own uncle to Sitalces. Sitalces then took his brother and carried him away, but Octamasades beheaded Scyles on the spot. So closely do the Scythians guard their usages, and such penalties do they lay on those who add foreign customs to their own.

But I’ll leave the decision up to you guys. The poll will remain open through Presidents’ Day weekend.

Or perhaps I’ll dispense with the democratic process altogether and write an interconnected trilogy, complete with accompanying Satyr Play. But that’s probably too ambitious considering the Dionysia is only a couple weeks away.

Alright, democracy it is!

One thought on “He took a face from the ancient gallery

  1. Dugin was actually going to be my second choice because of all the crazy stuff I read. I was reading his Dionysos/Apollo/Cybele Logos thing and I definitely want to learn more about him.

    But Rasputin has been someone I really want to know better too. I’ve been thinking a lot about him. My vote still stands but if you do change it then I could live with Dugin


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