The Amazons also played a role in the early history of Ephesos, with its famous temple of Artemis, either founding it or arriving there as suppliants during their conflict with Dionysos:
Pindar, however, it seems to me, did not learn everything about the Goddess, for he says that this sanctuary was founded by the Amazons during their campaign against Athens and Theseus. It is a fact that the women from the Thermodon, as they knew the sanctuary from of old, sacrificed to the Ephesian Goddess both on this occasion and when they had fled from Heracles; some of them earlier still, when they had fled from Dionysos, having come to the sanctuary as suppliants. However, it was not by the Amazons that the sanctuary was founded, but by Koresos, an aboriginal, and Ephesos, who is thought to have been a son of the river Kayster, and from Ephesos the city received its name. (Pausanias, Description of Greece 7.2.7)
Ephesos has some significance in our tradition. It is where Herakles finally caught and bound the Kerkopes (a race of mischievous, hairy forest creatures) and the philosopher Herakleitos observed a Lenaia celebration:
Lenai are habitually associated with the Lenaia, which included, according to this testimonium, a procession in Ephesus dedicated to the God accompanied by the hymn to the phallus, and it also records that ‘Hades is the same as Dionysos, in whose honour they go mad (μαίνονται) and ‘celebrate the Lenaia’ or ‘become lenai’ (ληναΐζουσιν). This latter phrase provides, in our view, very valuable information about the archaic festival in Ephesus. Firstly the reference to Dionysos, identifed with Hades, indicates the God’s contact with death in the festival; secondly the verb ληναΐζω may refer to the presence and importance of the women celebrating Dionysos in the festival, possibly with ‘ecstatic’ dancing and singing, if the verb is translated as ‘becoming lenai’ (Heraclitus uses it as a synonym for βακχεύουσι), as the scholia indicate. In fact, in another fragment, also recorded by Clement, Heraclitus alludes, amongst other groups traditionally associated with the cult of Dionysos (and the night), to the Λῆναι. The scholium ad loc. equates ληναΐζω with βακχεύουσιν, and the lenai with the Bacchants; and in a gloss of Hesychius the lenai are also equated with the Bacchants. In later literature the lenai are the maenads of Dionysos. Theocritus (Idyll. 26), for example, refers to the bacchants Agave, Ino and Autonoe as lenai or bacchai, and speaks of their rites at ‘the 12 altars.’ In a third-century BCE inscription found in Halicarnassus, Dionysos ‘leads’ the bacchants (θοᾶν ληναγέ – τα Βακχᾶν). The fragment of Heraclitus referred to above appears to indicate both the important part played by women who ‘become Λῆναι,’ at least in Ephesus in the Archaic period, and Dionysos’ link with death in this ancient festival shared with the Ionians. We think that the Λῆναι have and/or had a major role in the Athenian festival, in awakening, invoking or calling the God from death. This rite, in the Archaic era, should be understood in the context of the agrarian cycle, even when the festival is celebrated in the month Gamelion (January-February), barren from the agricultural point of view. It may be one of the rites that contribute to propitiating the awakening of nature, and in this particular case, that specifically associated with the God: vines and the production of wine, the element with which Dionysos himself tends to be identified – as Natale Spineto has said – from the time of Homer and throughout the Archaic period. This was not the time of the grape harvest, but it was, as this author points out, that when the vines were pruned (which could be evoked by the ‘violent act’ of crushing in the wine press), and the first opening of the πίθοι. (Miriam Valdés Guía, Redefining Dionysos in Athens from the Written Sources: The Lenaia, Iacchos and Attic Women)
And it is also where Marcus Antonius made his triumphal procession, according to Plutarch, Antonios 24.4:
At any rate, when he entered Ephesos, women arrayed as Bakchai, men and boys as satyrs and Pans, led the way, the city was full of ivy and thyrsos-wands and harps and pipes and flutes, while they invoked him as Dionysos the ‘Giver of Joy’ (Charidotes) and ‘Gentle’ (Meilichios); for he was indeed such to some, but to most, he was the ‘Eater of Raw Flesh’ (Omestes) and the ‘Wild’ (Agrionios).
One thought on “Dionysos in the city of Artemis”
It sucks we never got to give offerings to Artemis of Ephesos at that mural
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