He also taught them to reverence various Gods

Arrian, Indica 7.2-9
The Indians, Megasthenes says, were originally nomads, like the non-agricultural Skythians, who wander in their waggons and move from one part of Skythia to another, not dwelling in cities and not reverencing shrines of the Gods. Just so the Indians had no cities and built no temples, but were clothed with the skins of wild animals they would kill, and ate the bark of trees; these trees were called in the Indian tongue Tala, and what look like clews of wool grew on them, just as on the tops of palm trees. They also fed on what game they had captured, eating it raw, at least until Dionysos reached India. But when he arrived and became master of India, he founded cities, gave them laws, bestowed wine on the Indians as on the Greeks, and taught them to sow their land, giving them seed. (Either Triptolemos did not come this way when he was sent out by Demeter to sow the entire earth, or it was earlier than Triptolemos that this Dionysos, whoever he was, traversed India and gave the Indians seeds of domesticated plants.) Dionysos first yoked oxen to the plough and made most of the Indians agriculturalists instead of nomads, and equipped them also with the arms of warfare. He also taught them to reverence various Gods, but especially of course himself, with clashings of cymbals and beating of drums; he instructed them to dance in the Satyric fashion, the dance called among Greeks the ‘cordax’, and showed them how to wear long hair in honour of the God with the conical cap, and instructed them in the use of perfumed ointments, so that even against Alexander the Indians came to battle to the sound of cymbals and drums.

4 thoughts on “He also taught them to reverence various Gods

  1. It’s passages like this that make me confused why some people are so adamant on insisting Dionysos is an anarchist. Literally how can someone get that reading of Him when He does stuff like this? It’s just such superficial reading of Dionysos that totally ignores the wider implications of everything He does. One time someone said to me they believe Dionysos is an anarchist because the Maenads are doing things contrary to the social order. That clearly doesn’t hold water as historically Maenads are involved in the Trieteric feasts that involve doing rituals to promote the fertility of the land for agriculture. Our ancestors knew that agriculture requires a social order to function. After all, why would Goddesses like Dike, Eirene, and Eunomia both be Goddesses of Order AND Goddesses of Spring (the time of new agricultural endeavors) if these two things aren’t related? By promoting a system of resource production that requires permanent settlements, Dionysos is creating a necessity for some kind of social order to maintain those permanent settlements. Couple this with the fact that historians now believe that humans shifted from hunter-gatherer societies to agricultural societies to be able to grow crops associated with making beer. Not even bread. They literally think it’s because people wanted more BEER. Dionysos is LITERALLY the reason we have systems like we do today. So to say He’s an outright anarchist is probably one of the shallowest things you can say about the guy

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    1. I’d say there are four probable answers: 1) they see only a small portion of the God and think that the entirety of him, ignoring the fact that he transcends dualities and dissolves boundaries 2) they are woefully ill-informed when it comes to the literature on him, especially primary source material 3) among the sources they are familiar with, they cherry-pick the ones they like/confirm what they already believe or have experienced of him, and ignore the rest 4) for them ideology comes first, before actually knowing the Gods in their fullness. More than four, actually, but it’d be uncharitable (and unkind as fuck) of me to list the rest.

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  2. I’ve always wondered about Dionysos’s connections to India and if he’s a part of their Pantheon.

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    1. It’s a common point in Hindu rhetoric nowadays to claim that all Gods from ancient times are Hindu Gods. Shiva and Krishna are often the ones identified with Dionysos by both Westerners and Indians though those two alongside Balarama and Vajrapani are also identified with Herakles (interestingly enough it’s said Herakles went on Dionysos’ expedition to India)

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