Leads you here, despite your destination

Anthi Chrysanthou, Defining Orphism: the Beliefs, the Teletae and the Writings

If we accept that gala refers to the Milky Way, I suggest that the bull, the ram and the kid could refer to constellations. The ἔριφος, ταῦρος and κριὸς according to ancient sources would correspond to the constellations of Auriga (referred to as Ἔριφοι in ancient sources), Taurus (bull) and Aries (ram) respectively. These three constellations are next to each other and located on the Milky Way.

The constellation Taurus is related to Zeus but also to Dionysos since as already said the bull was Dionysos’ persona. Diodorus Siculus quotes some relevant verses: ‘One of them, Eumolpus, in his Bacchic Hymn speaks of ‘Our Dionysus, shining like a star, with fiery eye in every ray’ (ἀστροφαῆ Διόνυσον ἐν ἀκτίνεσσι πυρωπόν), while Orpheus says: ‘And this is why men call him Shining One and Dionysus’ (τούνεκά μιν καλέουσι Φάνητά τε καὶ Διόνυσον)’. We can see, thus, an association of the Orphic Dionysos-Phanes with the stars. In Sophocles’ Antigone the chorus of Theban elders addresses Dionysos, who is identified with the Eleusinian Iacchos:

O leader of the chorus of the stars with the fiery breath, overseer of the nocturnal chants, child begotten of Zeus, come to light, my king, with your attendants the Thyiades, who in night-long frenzy dance for Iacchus the giver!

Also, in Aristophanes’ Frogs the chorus says: Ἴακχ᾽ ὦ Ἴακχε, νυκτέρου τελετῆς φωσφόρος ἀστήρ φλογὶ φέγγεται δὲ λειμών (‘Iacchos, Oh Iacchos, the light-bringing star of our nocturnal rite. Now the meadow brightly burns’).

These passages give a clear identification of Dionysos-Iackhos as a star leading a chorus of stars. The chorus refers to the Thyiades who were the ones performing rites at Delphi to bring to life Dionysos. Their rite must have been important since the west pediment of the classical temple of Apollo at Delphi depicted Dionysos and the Thyiades, while the east pediment depicted Apollo’s arrival with Leto, Artemis and the Muses. The rites of the Thyiades took place in November and February and the Taurus constellation is most visible in November. Perhaps the resurrection of Dionysos was associated with the specific location of the constellation Taurus in the sky, which also marked the beginning of the new cycle of the grape season which ended in October with the harvest of the grapes. Taurus was formed from the Pleiades and the Hyades. Aratus (3rd B.C.) refers to the constellations and other celestial bodies in his Phenomena. He notes that the Pleiades were used for marking agricultural and seasonal cycles:

Small and dim are they all alike, but widely famed they wheel in heaven at morn and eventide, by the will of Zeus, who bade them tell of the beginning of summer and winter and of the coming of the ploughingtime.

We can see, thus, that the constellation of Taurus was associated with motifs of death and rebirth. It would not be surprising, then, if the owners of the gold tablets connected Taurus with eschatological beliefs of immortality and its location in the Milky Way with the Isles of the Blessed where they could dwell with the gods for all eternity. By uttering the makarismos of falling into milk as a bull, the initiates proclaimed their ultimate union with Dionysos and their new immortal state in the stars where Dionysos was also forever fixed as the constellation of Taurus and the leader of a chorus of stars (souls?), as the Theban elders in Antigone proclaim.

But what about the eriphos falling into milk? According to Aratus, the Auriga (Ἔριφοι) constellation is associated with the Charioteer and one of the kids he holds are identified with Amaltheia who suckled young Zeus. He notes:

At the feet of the Charioteer seek for the crouching horned Bull [Taurus]. […] Often spoken is their name and famous are the Hyades. Broadcast are they on the forehead of the Bull. One star occupies the tip of his left horn and the right foot of the Charioteer, who is close by. Together they are carried in their course…

An epigram from Miletus which includes ideas found in the gold tables and is dated to the 1st century A.D. locates the Isles of the Blessed at the exact same place that I have suggested:

You have not drunk the water from Lethe, Hermaios, and neither
Tartarus nor the abode of hateful Persephone is hidden to you. But
Hermes, of the beautiful ankles, led you up to Olympus and he saved
you from the painful life of human beings. At the age of eight, you have
seen the aether and now you sparkle among the stars, beside the horn,
in the constellation of the Goat, and next to the elbow of the
Charioteer. You shine now to protect the strong boys in the wrestling
school and thus the blessed show you their favour.

Hermaios’ blissful afterlife is dependent on the fact that he did not drink from the water of Lethe, just as in the gold tablets. Another similar idea is that human life is perceived as painful. The divine celestial substance is aether and Hermaios now sparkles among the stars located between the constellation of the Goat and the Charioteer. Even though this epigram comes from an area where no gold tablets have been found, it still lends support to my suggestion of locating the Isles of the Blessed in the Milky Way near the constellations of Eriphos and the Bull. 

Law & Order!

Dariusz Karłowicz, On the necessity of Dionysus: the return of Hephaestus as a tale of the God that alone can solve unresolvable conflicts and restore an inconsistent whole
Cosmic order, political order and the order of the home cannot be in anyway divided up.

Protect your home and community!

Richard Seaford, The politics of Euripides’ Bacchae and the preconception of irresolvable contradiction
The ethics of the initiated Dionysiac chorus are of community, lawfulness, peace, order and moderation, whereas the ethics of the turannos Pentheus are of lawless excess and violent individualism.

Form well-armed militias!

Fritz Fraf, Bacchic mysteries for the Oxford Classical Dictionary
During the Imperial epoch, several associations called themselves speîra. This term originated as the name of a tactical unit of the Ptolemaic army and later came to be the Greek term for the cohors of the Roman army; in a Dionysiac context, it occurs especially in Macedonia and the Black Sea region, but also in Rome. The occasional complex title of a “cohors of the Asians” (speîra Asianôn, 2nd century CE) or the “cohors of the Trajaniens” (Traianēsiôn, 2nd century CE) resonates with the way cohorts of the contemporary army were named and was chosen either because these associations brought together veterans or because the structure of the army offered itself as an easy template for such associations. The strict hierarchy of the larger associations of the Imperial age is visible in their quasi-military organization with archimústai and archibákchoi as their leaders (the same military template is manifest in the self-designation of some groups as speirai, spirae, the tactical unit of the Ptolemaic army). Boukólos can mark another, higher degree than the simple bákchos, exploiting the image of oversight and leadership implied in the term.

Fight Giants!

Cornelia Isler-Kerényi, Dionysos, the polis, and power

Until the age of Pericles, Dionysos is normally portrayed as a bearded man, dressed in a long chiton and himation. His movements are measured and dignified.This is his countenance in the numerous images in which he is accompanied by a thiasos of Satyrs and dancing women, but also in the mythological representations in which he always appears as an intermediary and defender of the cosmic order, that is to say, of the authority of Zeus.

Another image of Dionysos emerged in 560 BCE and continued to be current until the Hellenistic period: that of the Gigantomachos, the God who combats the Giants. The Giants had revolted against the Olympians with the aim of ousting them from power. For the Greeks, the Gigantomachy was a prefiguration and model of any conflict against barbarian enemies, while the victory of the Olympians foreshadowed the victory of civilisation over those who would try to undermine it. The Gigantomachy was therefore a frequent subject of official art, as seen for example in the sculptural decoration of Greek temples.

A revealing example is the decoration of the Siphnian Treasury at the Sanctuary of Apollo in Delphi erected just before 525 BCE. It had two decorative pediments and a frieze running around the outer walls. The frieze at the top of the north face, the first to come into a visitor’s view, is the best preserved. It shows the Gigantomachy with a host of figures. Dionysos, whose name is written on the plinth at the bottom of the figuration, is attacking an enemy. He is wearing a short chiton, leaving his legs free, while a panther skin on his shoulders indicates that he is a hunter. It is important to note here that his team of lions is led by Themis (who is also labelled), the deity personifying cosmic order.

Rise Up!

Jean-Marie Pailler, Dionysos against Rome? The Bacchanalian affair: a matter of power(s) 
The common religious aspects of three slave revolts
At intervals of approximately 30 years, between the Gracchi and Pompey, three slave revolts erupted in Sicily and Southern Italy. In spite of their differences, they present a striking common feature: the religious inspiration followed and exhibited by their leaders. In 132,the slaves chose Eunus as their chief. After his first successes as their king, under the Hellenistic royal name of Antiochus, because of his qualities of magos and teratourgos (‘a magician and a maker of miracles’) ‘he pretended to foretell future events, revealed to him (as he said) by the gods in his dreams,’ (Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 35.2.5)

The slaves passed a mutual pact with an exchange of oaths, at night, on the corpses of sacrificed victims. In another version, the end of the revolt came from sacrilegious acts committed by the slaves: the Roman senate ordered that their shrines be closed, accessible only to members of a city whose traditional duty involved a sacrifice to be accomplished inside. On this basis, the similarities with important aspects of the Bacchanalian story are obvious.The revolt of 102 in Campania and Sicily is also known through the account by Diodorus (36.11.7), who is probably still following Posidonius at this point. The main protagonist of the episode is Salvius, who demonstrates a characteristically polyvalent capacity as a political leader enthroned as a king by his troops under the Oriental name of Tryphon: he was an empeiros (‘expert’) in both fields of divination, hieroskopeia (‘deducing the future from the entrails of victims’) and astromantikes, finally a devotee sacrificing publicly to the twin Sicilian heroes, the Palikoi, themselves a guarantee for the oaths. Salvius is also said to have played flute in feminine orgiastic feasts.
Spartacus, the Thracian instigator and head of the slave revolt which began at Capua in 73 and had a wife ‘of the same tribe’. In his Life of Crassus (8.4), Plutarch writes:
It is said that when [Spartacus] was first brought to Rome to be sold, serpent was seen coiled about his face as he slept, and his wife, who was of the same tribe as Spartacus, a prophetess, and subject to visitations of the Dionysiac frenzy, declared it the sign of a great and formidable power which would attend him to a fortunate issue.

We have no other indications about Spartacus’ behaviour in this field, but what we learn here is sufficient to put the slave leader in the same category as Eunus and Salvius, with an important Dionysiac and feminine accentuation: Spartacus’ wife reminds us more specifically of the Bacchanals, due to her double empeiria in prophecy and in frenzy. To sum up, the slave wars bear witness to the importance of the religious element in the launching of such revolts. Some of their features are reminiscent of those of the Bacchanals: an experience of frenzy, the role of women, the taking of collective oaths and so on.

Happy Asian Heritage month

The Hudson Valley Bakcheion wishes y’all a happy Asian Heritage month!

Dionysos loves Asians.

In the Bakchai by Euripides the titular chorus have followed the vagabond God from the Asian steppe into Hellas, and they are held up as models of piety, wisdom and healthy expressions of ekstasis and enthousiasmos in contrast to the Theban Women who are turned into Mainades — or more accurately Dysmaniai (those who suffer harmful madness) as punishment for their impiety and the disrespect they showed not only towards Dionysos but to his mother.

Asians also played important roles in the cult of Dionysos, as these two inscriptions should suffice to show.

At Nikopolis on the Istros we find a Bakcheion of the Asians, AGRW 78:

Pautalos son of Cornutus, priest of the Bakcheion of the Asians, set up this column from his own resources.

Παυταλος Κορνούτου, ἱερεὺς Βακχίου Ἀσιανῶν, τὸν κίοναν ἐκ τῶν ἰδίων ἀνέστησεν.

And here is a dedication from a company (speira) of Asians from Montana in the former Roman province of Moesia, IGBulg II 480:

The sweet offspring of Zeus and Semele, Lenaios, bestower of lavish gifts. The priest Saturninus with his dear wife Magne set up this most excellent gift of his own production for the company of Asians during the time of his priesthood.

τὸν Ζηνὸς Σεμέλης τε γλυκὺν γ̣[ό]νον ἀγλαόδωρον Λήναιον τέχνης ἰδίης ἱερεὺς Σατορνεῖνος σὺν φιλίῃ ἀλόχῳ Μά̣γνῃ δῶρον πανάριστον Ἀσιανῶν σπείρῃ ἱερατεύοντες ἔθηκαν.

Oops. So that’s not the kind of Asian included in this celebration of cultural heritage? Well, have no fear — Dionysos loves those Asians too! 

And they loved him in return. 

Although Euripides places Dionysos on the eastern periphery of the Hellenic world:

I have left the rich lands of the Lydians and Phrygians, the sunny plains of the Persians, and the walls of Bactria, passing over the harsh land of the Medes, and fertile Arabia, and all of Asia which lies along the coast of the sea, its beautifully-towered cities replete with a mixture of Hellenes and Barbarians. (14-19)

After the conquests of Alexander the Great the God was carried to lands the playwright could scarcely have dreamed of — such as Ταπροβανᾶ (Sri Lanka) and Σηρικά (China), where Greeks even established a kingdom called Dàyuān (from 大宛 meaning “great Ionians”) which was famed for two things: its horses, which were said to be swift as the wind, and its excellent wines and grapevines by which viticulture was introduced into China. And here are a couple links if you would like to read a little something on Dàyuān and ancient Sino-Hellenic relations more broadly. 

And if you’d like to learn a lot more about the subject, I cannot recommend highly enough P. L. W. Arts’ Violets Between Cherry Blossoms: The Diffusion of Classical Motifs to the East which in discussing how Greco-Roman art and religion influenced and was absorbed and transformed by the Japanese, also touches on similar processes within Indian, Chinese, Korean and other Asian populations. Best of all, it has an entire chapter devoted to Dionysian motifs!

I particularly found this bit about Buddhism being one of the vectors of transmission interesting since I got my start in Chan or Zen Buddhism, and many of the teachings and techniques I picked up there have been directly applicable to later Bacchic stuff I’ve done.

The same can be said about many themes in the Buddhist art of Gandhāra of that period. One of the earliest examples, perhaps, is the stair riser with a Dionysian scene of musicians and dancers of about the 1st century A.D. Drinking wine, dancing and music making were apparently popular subjects for the embellishment of early Buddhist religious centres. There seems to be a correlation between altered states of consciousness associated with the loss of control brought on by wine and dance and the concept of heaven in which one could be reborn. It is therefore not impossible that the later Buddhist concept of rebirth in a paradise or in a heaven has its roots in pre-Buddhist Dionysian traditions. […] Buddhism, therefore, has most probably been a carrier of these Dionysian motifs to China in this period. A large silver plate has been found in the Gansu province, China that shows Dionysos in a central medallion surrounded by a grapevine pattern. It is ascribed to the 3rd or 4th century A.D. 

As I said, Dionysos loves Asians.

Bacchic asceticism is a thing

Marinus of Samaria, The Life of Proclus 18-19
Proclus made use of the noble purificatory practices which woo us from evil, that is lustrations and all of the other processes of purification whether Orphic or Chaldean, such as dipping himself into the sea without hesitation every month, and sometimes even twice or thrice a month. He practiced this discipline, rude as it was, not only in his prime, but even also when he approached his life’s decline; and so he observed, without ever failing, these austere habits of which he had, so to speak, made himself a law … As to the necessary pleasures of food and drink, he made use of them with sobriety, for to him they were no more than a solace from his fatigues. He especially preached abstinence from animal food, but if a special ceremony compelled him to make use of it, he only tasted it, out of consideration and respect. Every month he sanctified himself according to the rites devoted to the Mother of the Gods by the Romans, and before them by the Phrygians; he observed the holy days observed among the Egyptians even more strictly than did they themselves; and especially he fasted on certain days, quite openly. During the first day of the lunar month he remained without food, without even having eaten the night before; and he likewise celebrated the New Moon in great solemnity, and with much sanctity. He regularly observed the great festivals of all peoples, so to speak, and the religious ceremonies peculiar to each people or country. Nor did he, like so many others, make this the pretext of a distraction, or of a debauch of food, but on the contrary they were occasions of prayer meetings that lasted all night, without sleep, with songs, hymns and similar devotions. Of this we see the proof in the composition of his hymns, which contain homage and praises not only of the Gods adored among the Greeks, but where you also see worship of the God Marnas of Gaza, Asklepios Leontukhos of Askalon, Thyandrites who is much worshipped among the Arabs, the Isis who has a temple at Philae, and indeed all other divinities. It was a phrase he much used, and that was very familiar to him, that a philosopher should watch over the salvation of not only a city, nor over the national customs of a few people, but that he should be the hierophant of the whole world in common. Such were the holy and purificatory exercises he practiced, in his austere manner of life.

Suidas s.v. Hêraïskos
Hence his life also reached such a point that his soul always resided in hidden sanctuaries as he practiced not only his native rites in Egypt but also those of other nations, wherever there was something left of these. Heraiskos became a Bakchos, as a dream designated him and he traveled widely, receiving many initiations. Heraiskos actually had a natural talent for distinguishing between religious statues that were animated and those that were not. For as soon as he looked at one his heart was struck by a sensation of the divine and he gave a start in his body and his soul, as though seized by the God. If he was not moved in such a fashion then the statue was soulless and had no share of divine inspiration. In this way he distinguished the secret statue of Aion which the Alexandrians worshiped as being possessed by the God, who was both Osiris and Adonis at the same time according to some mystical union. There was also something in Heraiskos’ nature that rejected defilements of nature. For instance, if he heard any unclean woman speaking, no matter where or how, he immediately got a headache, and this was taken as a sign that she was menstruating.

Suidas s.v. Sarapio
For Isidore said that never in fact could he persuade him to meet another man, especially because when he grew old he no longer came out frequently from his own house; he lived alone in a truly small dwelling, having embraced the solitary life, employing some of the neighbors only for the most necessary things. He said that Sarapio was exceptionally prayerful, and visited the holy places in the dress of an ordinary man, where the rule of the feast led him. For the most part he lived all day in his house, not the life of a man, but to speak simply, the life of a God, continually uttering prayers and miracle-stories to himself or to the divinity, or rather meditating on them in silence. Being a seeker of truth and by nature contemplative, he did not deign to spend time on the more technical aspects of philosophy, but absorbed himself in the more profound and inspired thoughts. For this reason Orpheus was almost the only book he possessed and read, in each of the questions which came to him always asking Isidore, who had achieved the summit of understanding in theology. He recognized Isidore alone as an intimate friend and received him in his house. And Isidore seemed to observe in him the Kronian life of mythology. For that man continued doing and saying nothing else but recollecting himself and raising himself, as far as he could, towards the inward and indivisible life. He despised money so much that he possessed nothing whatever but only two or three books (among these was the poetry of Orpheus); and he despised the pleasures of the body so much that straightway from the beginning he offered to the body only what is necessary and alone brings benefit, but of sexual activity he was pure throughout his life. And he was so little concerned about honor from men that not even his name was known in the city. He would not have been known subsequently, if some one of the Gods had not wished to make him an example for mankind of the Kronian life. He used Isidore as an heir, having no heir from his family, nor supposing that anyone else was worthy of his property, I mean the two or three books.

One and Many

Aidonian has been making a series of informative posts on the Dodekatheon and their kin, and in his entry on Dionysos wrote the following: 

A fellow polytheist states that according to him there isn’t 1 Dionysos but many. His various names and epithets. Considering that he is a Dionysian, I don’t agree with him but do find that take interesting. For me, they are aspects of the God, not different Gods altogether. I wonder how he came to that conclusion?

Since I’m not aware of other contemporary Dionysians who engage in this kind of theological exploration I’m going to assume that Aidonian was referring to me, and specifically this post in which I speculate that there could be an entire pantheon of Dionysoi, and so feel that I should respond. 

Of course, as I wrote there I’m in full agreement with the author of the Gurôb Papyrus — “εις Διόνυσος!” (Either “there is one Dionysos” or “Dionysos is One” depending on your translation and philosophical disposition.) In fact I take the most expansive view possible, tracing him back like a proper Bacchic Orphic to the Primordial Egg and the four-headed, winged, androgynous entity it once contained (and will again) named Erikipaios, Eros, Metis or simply Phanês the God of manifestation who in time and through a series of incarnations would come to be known as Dionysos. I not only accept the vast plurality of epithets (I’ve cataloged around 300 and am certain that’s nowhere near complete) as referring to different aspects of a single God, but also accept all of his syncretic associations (around 150 by last count; most of these I take to be Dionysos temporarily adopting the forms and attributes of these divinities rather than him being identified with them, except in the cases where that is what’s going on) as well as his numerous births (he’s got around 20 different mothers that we know of, including at least one male mother) not to mention the times he’s incarnated as a human being (an avatār in Hindu terms, though I prefer the Greek Νέος Διόνυσος, meaning a “New” or “Young” Dionysos) which is distinct from full and even long-term possession, something else that we frequently find in his cult. 

Since I was a teenager I’ve dedicated myself to hunting down everything that can be known about this God so that I can experience and understand him better through these things — which has had a profound impact on my religious practice and identity. I’ve followed Dionysos down some mighty strange culverts — going from a Wiccanate Neopaganism to a general (heavily Attic-tinged) Hellenismȏs, to Greco-Egyptian polytheism, to local-focus Pacific Northwest polytheism, to Orphism and Magna Graecian polytheism with some folk Catholic elements, to founding my own initiatory mystery cult — the Starry Bull tradition — which is a synthesis of all these strains, and now I’m following him into Heathenry and the lands and traditions of the Starry Bear. 

And yet the position of the Gurôb Papyrus author is not the only possible one. 

We are dealing with a God, and as Aidonian reminds us, a God who is unique among the other Gods. But what sets him apart from his fellow Theoi is not just his mortal origin, his humanity (though that certainly and significantly does!) it’s the fact that Dionysos is fucking insane. And not just the kind of quirky crazy you see so fondly and frequently depicted on your streaming service of choice — every madness imaginable (and plenty that are beyond human ken) is contained in the mind of Dionysos. What happens when a GOD is mentally ill? Suppose he creates a persona, a mask, another self to converse with in the immense loneliness of his dwelling at the heart of the labyrinth? Does it just cease to exist when he’s done? Might it not share in its creator’s power and consciousness, and perhaps come to think of itself as an entity in its own right? Might its independent experiences not change its thinking, thus making it a truly different person than its starting point? What then do we call and consider this replica of Dionysos to be — Dionysos? Something different? And if so, what is it and how exactly does it differ? 

I don’t know. Fuck, I don’t even know who I am half the time. How am I supposed to comprehend a God — and a God like Dionysos μαινόμενος, the mad and maddening one?

So, yeah. I was just speculating, spitballing, throwing a bunch of shit at the walls and seeing what sticks and what slides down. However, flattered as I am Aidonian, I did not come up with this idea all on my own; indeed, as I was saying before I so rudely interrupted myself the position of the Gurôb Papyrus author is far from the only one that proliferated in antiquity. 

Nonnos of Panopolis, the final flowering of Greek epic who produced a work as large as the Ἰλιάς and Ὀδύσσεια combined on the mythical exploits of Dionysos despite being a Christian whose other masterwork is a paraphrase of the Gospel of John in dactylic hexameters, closed his Dionysiaka by having Iakchos formally admitted into the civic pantheon of Athens — thus producing a Bacchic Trinity of Iakchos the Son (of Aura and Dionysos), Dionysos the Father (born of Zeus and Semele, and destined to be the next King of the Gods) plus Zagreus the Holy Ghost (product of Zeus and Persephone who was murdered by the Titans.)     

Then the Archeress stilled her anger. She went about the forest seeking for traces of Lyaios in his beloved mountains, while she held Aura’s newborn babe, carrying in her arms another’s burden, until finally she delivered his boy to Dionysos her brother … The Athenians honoured him as a God next after the son of Persephoneia, and after Semele’s son; they established sacrifices for Dionysos lateborn and Dionysos firstborn, and third they chanted a new hymn for Iakchos. In these three celebrations Athens held high revel; in the dance lately made, the Athenians beat the step in honour of Zagreus and Bromios and Iakchos all together.

Diodoros Sikeliotes, on the other hand, relates a tradition wherein we find two Dionysoses, an Elder and Younger, in Bibliotheca historica 4.4.1-5. At other places he relates traditions about Cretan, Indian, Egyptian and Libyan Dionysoi, all of whom he treats as distinct — except when he combines them. 

Some writers of myths, however, relate that there was a second Dionysos who was much earlier in time than the one we have just mentioned. For according to them there was born of Zeus and Persephonê a Dionysos who is called by some Sabazios and whose birth and sacrifices and honours are celebrated at night and in secret, because of the disgrace resulting from the intercourse of the sexes. They state also that he excelled in sagacity and was the first to attempt the yoking of oxen and by their aid to effect the sowing of the seed, this being the reason why they also represent him as wearing a horn.

But the Dionysos who was born of Semelê in more recent times, they say, was a man who was effeminate in body and altogether delicate; in beauty, however, he far excelled all other men and was addicted to indulgence in the delights of love, and on his campaigns he led about with himself a multitude of women who were armed with lances which were shaped like thyrsi.​ They say also that when he went abroad he was accompanied by the Muses, who were maidens that had received an unusually excellent education, and that by their songs and dancing and other talents in which they had been instructed these maidens delighted the heart of the God. They also add that he was accompanied on his campaigns by a personal attendant and caretaker, Seilenos, who was his adviser and instructor in the most excellent pursuits and contributed greatly to the high achievements and fame of Dionysos. And in the battles which took place during his wars he arrayed himself in arms suitable for war and in the skins of panthers, but in assemblages and at festive gatherings in time of peace he wore garments which were bright-coloured and luxurious in their effeminacy.

He was also called Dimetor,​ they relate, because the two Dionysi were born of one father, but of two mothers. The younger one also inherited the deeds of the older, and so the men of later times, being unaware of the truth and being deceived because of the identity of their names thought there had been but one Dionysos.

While Cicero, who after being humiliated by Mark Antony and forced to retire from public affairs devoted himself to religious, antiquarian and philosophical studies in his ample spare time (at least until the chickens of vengeance came home to roost and Antony was able to pressure Octavian into having him executed) maintained that there were actually five Dionysoi, whom he carefully delineated in De Natura Deorum 3.21-23: 

We have a number of Dionysi. The first is the son of Jupiter and Proserpine; the second of Nile — he is the fabled slayer of Nysa. The father of the third is Cabirus; it is stated that he was king over Asia, and the Sabazia were instituted in his honour. The fourth is the son of Jupiter and Luna; the Orphic rites are believed to be celebrated in his honour. The fifth is the son of Nisus and Thyone, and is believed to have established the Trieterid festival.

Indeed these are not just empty hypostases but in cult we find one form of Dionysos invoked to counteract the influence of another Dionysos, both in Corinth:

The things worthy of mention in the city of Corinth include the extant remains of antiquity, but the greater number of them belong to the period of its second ascendancy. On the market-place, where most of the sanctuaries are, stand Artemis surnamed Ephesian and wooden images of Dionysos, which are covered with gold with the exception of their faces; these are ornamented with red paint. They are called Lysios and Bakcheios, and I too give the story told about them. They say that Pentheus treated Dionysos spitefully, his crowning outrage being that he went to Kithairon, to spy upon the women, and climbing up a tree beheld what was done. When the women detected Pentheus, they immediately dragged him down, and joined in tearing him, living as he was, limb from limb. Afterwards, as the Corinthians say, the Pythian priestess commanded them by an oracle to discover that tree and to worship it equally with the God. For this reason they have made these images from the tree. (Pausanias, Description of Greece 2.2.6-7)

And Naxos:

… whence Hipponax said (F 48 West), ‘the dark fig-tree, sister of the vine’; and they say that the fig is a discovery of Dionysos; wherefore Dionysos is Sykites among the Lakedaimonians. And in Naxos the mask of Dionysos Bakcheos was of vine-wood, but that of Meilichios of fig, and they called figs meilicha, and they say that figs are the most useful of all tree fruits to men. (Eustathios, Commentarii ad Homeri Odysseam on 24.341)

So while I have my own beliefs on the matter I endeavor to step out of that framework from time to time and try to see things from other people’s perspective, as Aidonian himself counsels, particularly when those others were devotees and initiates or contemporaries of such people at a time when the cult of this God was active and flourishing and part of an intact tradition within a healthy, creative and deeply pious society. Now I’m not saying that that automatically makes them right, but it is a mindset worth contemplating, especially since it may contain insights into the nature and activities of Dionysos which may elude even sincere devotees in this modern, progressive, secular abomination manufactured and marketed by corporations and governments (sorry, I repeat myself) alike, which we all pretend (or can’t tell the difference since we’re raised in and surrounded by it our entire lives) is a civilization though any sane person would recognize that most people are just mindlessly wandering around rifling through the garbage dump of history. But hey, different strokes for different folks, right? Dionysos is big enough to encompass every conception we have of him, and things we never dreamed existed too. He is the great Sol Niger, the coincidentia oppositorum who both unites and transcends all binaries, polarities, contradictions, paradoxes, and every other configuration we can come up with. 

Or as the Orphics of Olbia put it:

SEG 28.659:
βίος. θάνατος. βίος. ἀλήθεια. Ζαγρεύς. Διόνυσος
Life. Death. Life. Truth. Zagreus. Dionysos.

SEG 28.660:
εἰρήνη. πόλεμος. ἀλήθεια. ψεῦδος. Διόνυσος
Peace. War. Truth. Lie. Dionysos

SEG 28.661:
Διόνυσος. ἀλήθεια. σῶμα. ψυχή
Dionysos. Truth. Body. Soul.

The Orphic Great Hunter

Any time that the Ukraine is mentioned I think of Olbia and the bone tablets found there. Specifically SEG 28.659:

βίος. θάνατος. βίος. ἀλήθεια. Ζαγρεύς. Διόνυσος
Life. Death. Life. Truth. Zagreus. Dionysos.

This cryptic sequence is capped off by a fragment often omitted from translations, though it has been the subject of a great deal of scholarly debate: Ὀρφίκ-. Some believe that the final word is missing an α (which would make it Orphika, a reference to a class of literature and ceremonies which circulated under the name of the famous Thrakian musician) or if it’s supposed to end in -οι (giving us Orphikoi, a community organized around such material.) These days the existence of Orphic thiasoi is hotly contested though previous generations spoke of a kind of proto-Protestant Orphic “church.” I suspect, as with most things, the answer lies somewhere in the middle. There was no universal Orphic ekklesia, but there were itinerant religious specialists and the communities they served who drew inspiration from “Orphic” ideas and practices — and if the -οι party is correct, the bone tablets would be among the earliest evidence of their existence.

I sometimes wonder if the Ὀρφίκ- was a modifier however, as in “Orphic Dionysos” (though I’ve no idea if that’s plausible considering the spacing of the letters on the tablet, etc.) Was the author then commenting on the identity of Zagreus as the Dionysos associated with Orphika? While it’s unlikely that Zagreus as the child who suffers σπαραγμός and ὠμοφαγία at the hands of the Titans is intended since the name means “Great Hunter” and the earliest myths associated with it all suggest a potent, savage adult (or at least ἔφηβος) and only late authors such as Nonnos and Olympiodoros project it back (and Olympiodoros alone provides the anthropogony where man has a dualistic nature since we are sprung from an admixture of the blood of Dionysos and the ashy remnants of the Titans who were obliterated by Zeus’ lightning, which should be evident since his preserved heart is fed to Semele who was not among the first generation of humans and Dionysos when grown to manhood travels the inhabited world introducing wine and viticulture and his other mysteries and blessings to careworn mortalkind who have developed into separate races and civilizations, with numerous thriving cities.) But a different sort of Zagreus as the Orphic Dionysos … that has potential. 

And, although there are few traces of him left in the literary record (let alone the archaeological) I’ve long suspected that one is hiding in plain sight in Euripides’ Bakchai. At 1191 Agave hails Dionysos as κυναγέτας σοφός (“knowledgeable hunter”) to which the chorus of Mainades replies ὁ γὰρ ἄναξ ἀγρευς (“Our Lord is a hunter!”) Run those last two words together and you get ἄναξἀγρευς or ἄν- Ξἀγρευς which might sound to certain ears so inclined to hear it like Ζαγρεύς (especially since there was often dialectical confusion between Xi, Zeta and Sigma in the Archaic and Classical periods.) I’m not saying that was his intention, though Euripides did write the play during his residence at the Makedonian court, which we know from Plutarch was a hotbed of Bacchic Orphism, at least during the reign of Queen Olympias:

All the women of Makedonia were addicted to the Orphic rites and the orgies of Dionysos from very ancient times (being called Klodones and Mimallones), and imitated in many ways the practices of the Edonian women and the Thracian women about Mount Haemus, from whom, as it would seem, the word threskeuein came to be applied to the celebration of extravagant and superstitious ceremonies. Now Olympias, who affected these divine possessions more zealously than other women, and carried out these divine inspirations in wilder fashion, used to provide the revelling companies with great tame serpents, which would often lift their heads from out the ivy and the mystic winnowing baskets, or coil themselves about the wands and garlands of the women, thus terrifying the men. (Life of Alexander 2.5-6)

And both before and after her plenty of the Argeádai or Temenid dynasty were devotees of Dionysos, whom they counted amongst their ancestral Gods and further considered the progenitor of their line (except when they wanted to be Heraklids.)

many saw these prophecies coming true

The catastrophes at Byzantium

So, I’m reading Karen Høilund Nielsen’s most excellent study Endzeiterwartung – expecting the End of the World from Neue Studien zur Sachsenforschung 5, 2015 when I’m struck by how shitty things were after the Romans turned their backs on their ancestral Gods and Spirits. 

Lactantius (c. 240 – 320) collected all the apocalyptic omens of the end of the world from sacred and profane literature (KÖTTING 1958, 134) in order to prove the fast approaching end. Wars, kin fighting kin, the decline of morals, famine, plague, cosmic episodes and natural catastrophes could be such omens (BRANDES 1990; 1997, 40–42;KÖTTING 1958, 135). During the decades around the turn of the century at AD 400 many saw these prophecies coming true. They saw various incidents of war and natural catastrophes as signs of the coming of the end of the world (BLECKMANN 2008,13). These catastrophes are listed in contemporary chronicles such as Marcellinus Comes’s Chronicon (quoted and translated from KÖTTING 1958, 137):

389: Two days of hail; comet visible to the North
390: Column of fire in the sky for thirty days
393: Darkness of the sun
394: From September to November earthquakes
396: Frequent earthquakes and fire symbol in the sky
402: Earthquake in Constantinople
404: Enormous fire in Constantinople
407: Enormous damages due to bad weather
408: Seven days of loud rumbling (mugitus terrae) in the Forum Pacis in Rome. Severe weather
409: Famine and revolt in Constantinople
417: Earthquake and darkness
419: Christ appeared on the Mount of Olives. He showed himself in a cloud. Many neighbouring tribes, who witnessed the incident, converted in fear and were baptised; with divine assent all the baptised wore the cross of the Redeemer on their clothes

On top of that came Alarich’s conquest of Rome in AD 410, which spread anxiety among Christians as well as pagans. And at least a further nine earthquakes were recorded for Constantinople and its surroundings by the end of the fifth century (DOWNEY 1955, 596–597)

Some context

In the previous post I mentioned that there would likely have been a bunch of professing Christians in the crowd celebrating the Bacchic orgia at Antioch. Although this city is where members of the nascent Jesus-movement were first given the name Χριστιανοι (Acts 11:26) and it remained one of the strongest and most intellectually vibrant centers of Christendom in the East, the Antiochenes always had a very heterodox character and were frequently lambasted for their love of pleasure and sensuality on the one hand and their attachment to old Pagan customs, especially the Maiuma, on the other. The Maiuma was a joyous celebration of Spring and the union of Dionysos and Aphrodite, during which people would throw lavish banquets, go down to the beach, spend time at the public baths and the theater, and festoon themselves with flowers. And of course have lots and lots of sex.

Here are some quotes I’ve collected on the festival.

Codex Theodosianus 15.6.1-2
It has pleased Our Clemency to restore to the provincials the enjoyment of the Maiuma, provided, however, that decency and modesty and chaste manners shall be preserved (25 April 396).

We permit the theatrical arts to be practiced, lest, by excessive restriction thereof, sadness may be produced. But we forbid that foul and indecent spectacle which under the name Maiuma a shameless license claims for its own (2 October 399).

Diodoros Sikeleiotes, Library of History 4.6.1
Now the ancients record in their myths that Priapos was the son of Dionysos and Aphrodite and they present a plausible argument for this lineage; for men when under the influence of wine find the members of their bodies tense and inclined to the pleasures of love.

Homeric Hymn 6 to Aphrodite
To Sea-set Kypros the moist breath of Zephyros the western wind wafted her over the waves of the loud-moaning sea in soft foam, and there the gold-filleted Horai welcomed her joyously. They clothed her with heavenly garments: on her head they put a fine, well-wrought crown of gold, and in her pierced ears they hung ornaments of orichalc and precious gold, and adorned her with golden necklaces over her soft neck and snow-white breasts, jewels which the gold-filleted Horai wear themselves whenever they go to their father’s house to join the lovely dances of the gods. And when they had fully decked her, they brought her to the gods, who welcomed her when they saw her, giving her their hands. Each one of them prayed that he might lead her home to be his wedded wife, so greatly were they amazed at the beauty of violet-crowned Kythereia.

John Chrysostom, In Matthaeum Homiliae 7
For tell me, if anyone offered to introduce you into a palace, and show you the king sitting (there), would you indeed choose to see the theatre instead of these things? And you leave this and run to the theatre to see women swimming, and nature put to open dishonour, leaving Christ sitting by the well? But you, leaving the fountain of blood, the awful cup, go your way to the fountain of the devil, to see a harlot swim, and to endure shipwreck of the soul. For that water is a sea of lasciviousness, not drowning bodies, but working shipwreck of souls. And while she swims naked, you, as you behold, are plunged into the depths of lasciviousness. For in the first place, through a whole night the devil takes over their souls with the expectation of it; then having shown them the expected object, he has at once bound them and made them captives. If now you are ashamed, and blush at the comparison, rise up to your nobility and flee the sea of hell and the river of fire, I mean the pool in the theatre. And you, when there is a question of precedence, claim to have priority over the whole world, since our city first crowned itself with the name of Christian; but in the competition of chastity, are you not ashamed to be behind the ruder cities?

John the Lydian, De Mensibus 4.76-80
Those theologians who inquire into the nature of things wish May to be water. That is what it is called in the Syrian language and even today they call aqueducts meiouri. Also, they call feasting ‘to do the Maiuma’, from which we get the term Maiuma. The festival was held in Rome in the month of May. The leading men of the city went down to the shore and the city of Ostia to enjoy themselves by throwing one another into the waters of the sea. And so all festivals of this sort are traditionally called Maiuma.

Emperor Julian, Misopogon 362D
Yet all of you Antiochenes delights to spend money privately on dinners and feasts; and I know very well that many of you squandered very large sums of money on dinners during the Maiuma.

Ioannes Malalas, Chronicle 284-5
Likewise Commodus set aside a specific quantity of gold for torches, lights, and other expenses for the celebration of the nocturnal dramatic festival, held every three years and known as Orgies or the Mysteries of Dionysos and Aphrodite, which some call Maioumas because it is celebrated in the month of May or Artemisios.

Plutarch, Life of Antony 24
At any rate, when Antony made his entry into Ephesos, women arrayed like Bacchanals and men and boys like Satyrs and Pans, led the way before him, and the city was full of ivy and thyrsos-wands and harps and pipes and flutes, the people hailing him as Dionysos Carnivorous and Savage.

Severus of Antioch, Homily 95
But those who have gone up to Daphne in pagan fashion have had no regard for the truth, which is so terrible and on account of which everything moves and trembles. But in the dark moments of the night they even lit lamps of wax in the stadium and added incense, stealthily bringing about their own destruction; and it was certain strangers, take good note, who informed me of this while trembling and crying. Do you not see the nets of the Calumnator, and his hidden traps, which on the one hand have as a pretext the joy and pleasure at first sight and lead on the other hand to idolatry and the celebration of festivals in some ways criminal and harmful? And are you not ashamed, when we call ourselves Christians, we who were born on high for the purification which comes from the water and the Spirit and call ourselves children of God, to run equally to the solemnities of Satan, which we have renounced by divine baptism? For whenever you change your clothing and afterwards go up to the spactacle, dressed in a tiny linen tunic, which hides the arms but not the hands, waving about a wooden stick and with all skin shaved with a razor, so to speak – look, is it not quite clear that you have made the procession and participated in the celebration?

 Sokrates the Rhodian, History of the Civil War Book 3 [Quoted in Athenaios, 4.29]
But Cleopatra having met Antony in Cilicia, prepared a royal entertainment, in which every dish was golden and inlaid with precious stones, wonderfully chased and embossed. And the walls were hung with cloths embroidered in gold and purple. And she had twelve triclinia laid; and invited Antony to a banquet, and desired him to bring with him whatever companions he pleased. And he being astonished at the magnificence of the sight, expressed his surprise; and she, smiling, said that she made him a present of everything which he saw, and invited him to sup with her again the next day, and to bring his friends and captains with him. And then she prepared a banquet by far more splendid than the former one, so as to make that first one appear contemptible; and again she presented to him everything that there was on the table; and she desired each of his captains to take for his own the couch on which he lay, and the goblets which were set before each couch. And when they were departing she gave to all those of the highest rank palanquins, with the slaves for palanquin bearers; and to the rest she gave horses, adorned with golden furniture: and to every one she gave Ethiopian boys, to bear torches before them. And on the fourth day she paid more than a talent for roses; and the floor of the chamber for the men was strewed a cubit deep, nets being spread over the blooms.


I’ve been thinking about the final line of Theodoret’s anecdote about the reign of Emperor Valens:

and votaries initiated in the orgies of Dionysos ran about in goatskins, mangling dogs in Bacchic frenzy. (Ecclesiastical History 5.20)

Let us assume that this is not a slur invented by our good Christian historian whole-cloth — and there are solid reasons for doing so since we find isolated pockets of Bacchic worship surviving into the 7th century, and then a couple hundred years after that spontaneous revivals start breaking out all over the place, culminating in the Renaissance whose guiding lights were obsessed with all things Dionysian (especially the more Neoplatonic take on them) and Regency England which coined the term “Bacchomania” to describe the prevalence of Dionysian motifs in the arts, architecture and popular culture of the period; this is also when you start seeing secret societies devoted to Dionysos (and usually Aphrodite or Pan) such as the Hellfire Club, which no less than Benjamin Franklin was a member of. 

What can we infer about this group of Dionysos-worshipers during the twilight of Classical Paganism? If they were a survival it is likely because they were a θίασος (“private association”) unattached to a particular temple or locale such as a sacred mountain, cave, grove or even artificial grotto which would allow them to survive independent of the fluctuating degree of state support which the civic cults were dependent on. They either met in the homes of the cult-leaders, had a private club-house, or met in different locales depending on the occasion.

They may have possessed a lineage stretching back before the family of Constantine rose to power (and established Christianity as Rome’s state religion) or they could have started up during the brief interlude of Julian’s reign when many cults or traditions underwent a process of revival and reconstruction; since Theodoret mentions initiations we are probably looking at an intergenerational and closed group rather than an expression of civic religion, though it’s also possible that there’s an inner court of initiates, and a wider community (which may even have included professing Christians) who took part in the drunken revels. It’s possible that we’re dealing with some degree of survival of Antioch’s civic cultus since Dionysos was immensely popular there well up through late antiquity, but in all probability the core was a closed group of initiates.

What’s particularly interesting is that they have revived the sacrament of σπαραγμός (“rending, tearing to pieces”) and most likely ὠμοφαγία (“the eating of raw flesh”) too, which had largely been phased out during the Hellenistic period. Different, however, is their choice of victim — during the Archaic and Classical periods, and even with the tamer versions of the Hellenistic the animal is most often αγριος (“wild”) i.e. deer, hare, foxes, wolves, etc. as opposed to domestic. The two most notable exceptions to this are goats and cattle, though other domesticated animals such as sheep, swine, fish and fowl were not generally sparagmósed even when they are sacrificial animals offered to Dionysos as part of civic cultus. And we see that here with this group which rent goats and dogs as part of their rites.

Two things can be inferred from this: the group probably conducted its rites within the confines of Antioch rather than venturing out into the χώρα (“surrounding land”) as most (though certainly not all) previous Dionysian thiasoi had done, and they were also unconventional in their choice of dogs. While the dog is certainly a Dionysian animal, it is almost never a sacrificial animal. Indeed, only very non-mainstream deities like Hekate and Ares (both originating on the Hellenic periphery) or mainstream Gods during unusual occasions (such as Pan at the Lupercalia; but also note that he’s Arcadian) ever received dog-sacrifices in Greek and Roman religion. Very interesting indeed.   

the prize of the hunt

The mention of the νεβρίς in the last post reminded me of Semachos and his daughters, eponyms of the Attic deme Σημαχίδαι who were the first to receive the prize of the hunt from the God. I wish we had more of the story, especially since it forms a triptych with the other great Attic receiver-heroes Ikarios, who was given a vine-branch and taught wine-making by Dionysos (and also had a myth involving a goatskin) and Amphiktyon the son of Deukalion, who was taught by Dionysos the proper proportion for mixing water and wine when the God came to visit the kingdom under his reign (Eustathius, On Homer, p. 1815.) Not to mention that the Attic deme Ἀλωπεκή takes its name from a foxskin, making me wonder if there’s a lost legend lurking there involving a visitation by Dionysos Βασσαρεύς. 

mangling dogs in Bacchic frenzy

I’m high, and listening to some good tunes, and thinking about how life is full of all kinds of ups and downs and how that is superbly exemplified in the life of Flavius Valentinianus who, despite the humiliation of being discharged from the army for incompetence by Emperor Julian, upon rising to the purple restored Christianity’s status as state religion of the Roman Empire, and finally shat himself to death while screaming at a barbarian envoy.

Panta chorei, as Herakleitos said. (“Everything dances.”)

Despite the whole making Christianity the state religion again thing you don’t hear a lot about Emperor Valentinian these days, which is too bad as he was a pretty interesting guy. He was frequently at odds with the clergy, denouncing their venality and political aspirations while they decried his generally tolerant, hands off approach to religion and in particular his refusal to allow them to use the apparatus of the imperium to persecute Pagans, Jews and Christian heretics. The bastard! This laissez-faire attitude was shared by his brother and Co-Emperor in the East Valens, who provoked the ire of the Christian historian Theodoret:

At Antioch Valens spent considerable time, and gave complete license to all who under cover of the Christian name, Pagans, Jews, and the rest preached doctrines contrary to those of the Gospel. The slaves of this error even went so far as to perform Pagan rites, and thus the deceitful fire which after Julian had been quenched by Jovian, was now rekindled by permission of Valens. The rites of the Jews, of Dionysos and Demeter were no longer performed in a corner as they would have been in a pious reign, but by revellers running wild in the forum. Valens was a foe to none but to them that held the apostolic doctrine. Against the champions of the apostolic decrees alone he persisted in waging war. Accordingly, during the whole period of his reign the altar fire was lit, libations and sacrifices were offered to idols, public feasts were celebrated in the forum, and votaries initiated in the orgies of Dionysos ran about in goatskins, mangling dogs in Bacchic frenzy. (Ecclesiastical History 4.21; 5.20)

There was also a lot of “up and down” in Valentinian’s life because of the changes he introduced into the Roman legal code regarding marriages:

Justina became known to Marina Severa, wife of the emperor Valentinian, and had frequent dialogue with the empress, until their intimacy at length grew to such an extent that they were accustomed to bathe together. When Severa saw Justina in the bath she was greatly struck with the beauty of the virgin, and spoke of her to the emperor; saying that the daughter of Justus was so lovely a creature, and possessed of such symmetry of form, that she herself, though a woman, was altogether charmed with her. The emperor, treasuring this description by his wife in his own mind, considered with himself how he could espouse Justina, without repudiating Severa, as she had borne him Gratian, whom he had created Augustus a little while before. He accordingly framed a law, and caused it to be published throughout all the cities, by which any man was permitted to have two lawful wives. The law was promulgated and he married Justina, by whom he had Valentinian the younger. (Socrates Scholasticus, Historia Ecclesiastica IV.31)

Unless Socrates is slandering the Emperor — there’s certainly no trace of this in Roman jurisprudence or the other biographical sources on Valentinian, plus Justina was a fervent Arian, so she might have been the target of the Constantinopolitan’s inky barbs. But I want to believe that it’s true.

Amazing image of Dionysos

Image by schmoo15, which Petros found on Deviant Art and sent to me. It reminds me of one of my favorite lines from Euripides’ Bakchai (which is saying something as there’s a lot of great lines in that play) where Dionysos is described as θεὸς δεινότατος, ἀνθρώποισι δ’ ἠπιώτατος (861) [to mortals the most terrifying and most benign God.]


Coincidentally it is also the second day (out of seven) of the Hudson Valley Bakcheion’s observance of the Dionysia, and the start of the Gold Season (April through June) during which the face that the God shows to us is that of the Sacred King, and we honor him alongside the Fairies & Goblins of his Retinue. Check that first link for movie recommendations and other tips on how to celebrate the Dionysia, our festival of the ars dramatica. In addition to the Dionysian Artists and legendary figures of the stage, this is also a good time to pay your respects to the Heroes and Heroines of the Bakcheion by reflecting on their stories, and works, and the virtues (and vices) that they embodied as well as making offerings (particularly libations) to them. You can either venerate them collectively or pick a different recipient for each day of the festival. In particular reflect on their association with Dionysos and how they, consciously or subconsciously, acted out his myths, drives and (often contradictory) traits through their lives in both positive and negative ways. Remember, an hero isn’t necessarily a salutary model to emulate but rather is honored for being exceptional. And the exceptional is often dangerous and destructive, especially when Dionysos is involved. Finally, you can organize your movie-watching thematically, devoting one day to tragedies, one day to comedies and since Satyr-plays are not generally produced anymore (especially not in Hollywood) you can swap them out with another appropriate Dionysian genre such as horror, dark fantasy or rom-coms. If you have any questions about any of this please do not hesitate to ask your humble ἱεροποιός.