The hard-drinking Amazon

A while back I posted a number of quotes pertinent to the celebration of Anthesteria in Northern lands from Katerina Amanatidou’s The cult of Dionysos in the Black Sea region, including this passage on Sinope:

Apart from the terracotta figurines, the excavations brought to light a marble statue of Dionysos and coins bearing his image. The statue, which is based on an altar, is dated to the Roman period and depicts the god naked, but not barefoot, crowned with a garland made of ivy leaves and flower buds and accompanied most probably by a panther. Additionally, in some figurines Dionysos is depicted wearing a diadem of ivy leafs and flowers and a band, tainia, on his forehead. Lastly, his function as the patron deity especially of viticulture and of fertility of nature generally is also evident in Sinopean numismatics. In several coins is represented the head of Dionysos in his youth along with some of his attributes such as the thyrsos and the cista mystica.

Sinope’s an interesting place, especially the aition of its founding as recorded in the Scholion on Apollonios of Rhodes, Argonautika 2.946-54c:

Sinope is a city on the Black Sea, named after Sinope, the daughter of Asopos, whom Apollo abducted from Hyria and brought to the Black Sea; and through intercourse with her, he sired Syros, name-giver of the Syrians. In the genealogy of the Orphika (F 366 Bernabé 2.1 p. 295 = F 45 Kern) she is the offspring of Ares and Aigina; according to others, of Ares and Parnasse; according to Eumelos (BNJ 451 F 5 = F 10 Bernabé = F 7 Davies) and Aristotle (F 540 Rose = F 599 Gigon), of Asopos. Apollonios says that she tricked the river god Halys and Apollo and Zeus; that by asking them first to give her whatever she desired, then saying that she desired virginity, virginity is what she received, as they were bound by oath. Philostephanos (FHG 3.29 F 3), on the contrary, says that Apollo had intercourse with her and made her pregnant with the son called Syros. But Andron of Teos says that one of the Amazons, having fled to the Black Sea, married the king of that region; and that because she drank copious amounts of wine, she received the name Sanape [since this metaphrastically means ‘she who drinks much’], since drunk women are called sanapai among the Thracians, whose dialect is also used by the Amazons; and that the city was called then through corruption, Sinope. And the hard-drinking Amazon went from this city to Lytidas, as Hekataios reports (BNJ 1 F 34).

According to Diodoros Sikeliotes the Amazons were originally enemies of Dionysos, but after being subdued by him, they joined his army under the command of Athene and fought valiantly in his war against the Titans


2 thoughts on “The hard-drinking Amazon

  1. It really is fascinating how so many groups in the retinue have the same basic story of “they were enemies of Dionysos until He beat them and now they serve Him”


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