terror-of-giants is his name

dio3

Horace, Carmina 2.12

I saw Bacchus on distant cliffs – believe me,
O posterity – he was teaching songs there,
and the Nymphs were learning them, and all
the goat-footed Satyrs with pointed ears.

Evoe ! My mind fills with fresh fear, my heart
filled with Bacchus, is troubled, and violently
rejoices. Evoe! Spare me, Liber,
dreaded for your mighty thyrsus, spare me.

It’s right to sing of the wilful Bacchantes,
the fountain of wine, and the rivers of milk,
to sing of the honey that’s welling,
and sliding down from the hollow tree-trunks:
It’s right to sing of your bride turned goddess, your
Ariadne, crowned among stars: the palace
of Pentheus, shattered in ruins,
and the ending of Thracian Lycurgus.

You direct the streams, and the barbarous sea,
and on distant summits, you drunkenly tie
the hair of the Bistonian women,
with harmless knots made of venomous snakes.

When the impious army of Giants tried
to climb through the sky to Jupiter’s kingdom,
you hurled back Rhoetus, with the claws
and teeth of the terrifying lion.

Though you’re said to be more suited to dancing,
laughter, and games, and not equipped to suffer
the fighting, nevertheless you shared
the thick of battle as well as the peace.

Cerberus saw you, unharmed, and adorned
with your golden horn, and, stroking you gently,
with his tail, as you departed, licked
your ankles and feet with his triple tongue.

θάνατος. βίος. θάνατος.

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Although Liberalia is not part of the official House of Vines festival calendar for the year 2018 e.v. it has always been one of my favorite Bacchic feasts. (I tend to think of it as Beenis Day, as bees and penises are the primary themes of the occasion.)

While preparing the post with the excerpt from Ovid’s Fasti something stood out for me that hadn’t upon previous readings:

He fell headlong, and received a kick from the ass, as he shouted to his friends and called for help. The Satyrs ran up, and laughed at their father’s face, while he limped about on his damaged knee. Bacchus himself laughed and showed him the use of mud: Silenus took his advice, and smeared his face with clay.

No, no. Not the alternative aition for titanos. This bit:

The Kite star turns downwards near the Lycaonian Bear: on this night it’s first visible. If you wish to know who raised that falcon to heaven, it was when Saturn had been dethroned by Jupiter: angered, he stirred the mighty Titans to battle, and sought whatever help the Fates could grant him. There was a bull, a marvellous monster, born of Mother Earth, the hind part of which was of serpent-form: warned by the three Fates, grim Styx had imprisoned him in dark woods, surrounded by triple walls. There was a prophecy that whoever burnt the entrails of the bull in the flames would defeat the Eternal Gods. Briareus sacrificed it with an adamantine axe, and was about to set the innards on the flames: but Jupiter ordered the birds to snatch them: and the Kite brought them, and his service set him among the stars.

And so it begins.

τρίπους

 

figs-and-honey

Augustine, De Civitate Dei 7.21
Now as to the rites of Liber, whom they have set over liquid seeds, and therefore not only over the liquors of fruits, among which wine holds, so to speak, the primacy, but also over the seeds of animals:— as to these rites, I am unwilling to undertake to show to what excess of turpitude they had reached, because that would entail a lengthened discourse, though I am not unwilling to do so as a demonstration of the proud stupidity of those who practice them. Varro says that certain rites of Liber were celebrated in Italy which were of such unrestrained wickedness that the shameful parts of the male were worshipped at crossroads in his honour. Nor was this abomination transacted in secret that some regard at least might be paid to modesty, but was openly and wantonly displayed. For during the festival of Liber this obscene member, placed on a little trolley, was first exhibited with great honour at the crossroads in the countryside, and then conveyed into the city itself. But in the town of Lavinium a whole month was devoted to Liber alone, during the days of which all the people gave themselves up to the must dissolute conversation, until that member had been carried through the forum and brought to rest in its own place; on which unseemly member it was necessary that the most honorable matron should place a wreath in the presence of all the people. Thus, forsooth, was the god Liber to be appeased in order for the growth of seeds. Thus was enchantment (fascinatio) to be driven away from fields, even by a matron’s being compelled to do in public what not even a harlot ought to be permitted to do in a theatre, if there were matrons among the spectators.

θρίαμβος

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From the third book of Ovid’s Fasti

There’s a popular festival of Bacchus, on the third day after the Ides: Bacchus, favour the poet who sings your feast. I’ll not speak about Semele: you’d have been born defenceless, If it hadn’t been that Jupiter brought her his lightning too. Nor will I tell how the mother’s labour was fulfilled in a father’s body, so you might duly be born their son. It would take long to tell of the conquered Sithonians, and the Scythians, and the races of incense-bearing India. I’ll be silent about you too, Pentheus, sad prey to your own mother, and you Lycurgus, who killed your own son in madness. Lo, I’d like to speak of the monstrous Tyrrhenians, who suddenly became dolphins, but that’s not the task of this verse. The task of this verse is to set out the reasons why a vine-planter sells his cakes to the crowd.

Liber, before your birth the altars were without offerings, and grass appeared on the stone-cold hearths. They tell how you set aside the first fruits for Jupiter, after subduing the Ganges region, and the whole of the East. You were the first to offer up cinnamon and incense from conquered lands, and the roast entrails of triumphal oxen. Libations derive their name from their originator, And cake (liba) since a part is offered on the sacred hearth. Honey-cakes are baked for the God, because he delights in sweet substances, and they say that Bacchus discovered honey.

He was travelling from sandy Hebrus, accompanied by Satyrs, (my tale contains a not-unpleasant jest) and he’d come to Mount Rhodope, and flowering Pangaeus: with the cymbals clashing in his companions’ hands. Behold unknown winged things gather to the jangling, bees, that follow after the echoing bronze. Liber gathered the swarm and shut it in a hollow tree, And was rewarded with the prize of discovering honey. Once the Satyrs, and old bald-headed Silenus, had tasted it, they searched for the yellow combs in every tree. The old fellow heard a swarm humming in a hollow elm, saw the honeycombs, but pretended otherwise: and sitting lazily on his hollow-backed ass, he rode it up to the elm where the trunk was hollow. He stood and leant on the stump of a branch, And greedily reached for the honey hidden inside. But thousands of hornets gathered, thrusting their stings into his bald head, leaving their mark on his snub-nosed face. He fell headlong, and received a kick from the ass, as he shouted to his friends and called for help. The Satyrs ran up, and laughed at their father’s face, while he limped about on his damaged knee. Bacchus himself laughed and showed him the use of mud: Silenus took his advice, and smeared his face with clay.

Father Liber loves honey: its right to offer its discoverer Glittering honey diffused through oven-warm cakes. The reason why a woman presides isn’t obscure: Bacchus stirs crowds of women with his thyrsus. Why an old woman, you ask? That age drinks more, and loves the gifts of the teeming vine. Why is she wreathed with ivy? Ivy’s dearest to Bacchus: and why that’s so doesn’t take long to tell. They say that when Juno his stepmother was searching for the boy, the nymphs of Nysa hid the cradle in ivy leaves.

It remains for me to reveal why the toga virilis, the gown Of manhood, is given to boys on your day, Bacchus: whether it’s because you seem to be ever boy or youth, and your age is somewhere between the two: or because you’re a father, fathers commend their sons, their pledges of love, to your care and divinity: or because you’re Liber, the gown of liberty and a more liberated life are adopted, for you: or is it because, in the days when the ancients tilled the fields more vigorously, and Senators worked their fathers’ land, and ‘rods and axes’ took Consuls from the curving plough, and it wasn’t a crime to have work-worn hands, the farmers came to the City for the games, (though that was an honour paid to the Gods, and not their inclination: and the grape’s discoverer held his games this day, while now he shares that of torch-bearing Ceres.) And the day seemed not unfitting for granting the toga, so that a crowd could celebrate the fresh novice? Father turn your mild head here, and gentle horns, and spread the sails of my art to a favourable breeze.

If I remember rightly, on this, and the preceding day, crowds go to the Argei (their own page will tell who they are). The Kite star turns downwards near the Lycaonian Bear: on this night it’s first visible. If you wish to know who raised that falcon to heaven, it was when Saturn had been dethroned by Jupiter: angered, he stirred the mighty Titans to battle, And sought whatever help the Fates could grant him. There was a bull, a marvellous monster, born of Mother Earth, the hind part of which was of serpent-form: warned by the three Fates, grim Styx had imprisoned him in dark woods, surrounded by triple walls. There was a prophecy that whoever burnt the entrails of the bull, in the flames, would defeat the Eternal Gods. Briareus sacrificed it with an adamantine axe, and was about to set the innards on the flames: but Jupiter ordered the birds to snatch them: and the Kite brought them, and his service set him among the stars.

τέλος

Borges_Grave_Cemetery_Geneva

Plutarch, De Anima fragment preserved in Stobaios Florigelium 120
When the soul comes to the point of death, it suffers something like those who participate in the great initiations (teletai). Therefore the word teleutan closely resembles the word teleisthai just as the act of dying resembles the act of being initiated. At first there are wanderings and toilsome running about in circles and journeys through the dark over uncertain roads and culs de sacs; then, just before the end, there are all kinds of terrors, with shivering, trembling, sweating, and utter amazement. After this, a strange and wonderful light meets the wanderer; he is admitted into clean and verdant meadows, where he discerns gentle voices, and choric dances, and the majesty of holy sounds and sacred visions. Here the now fully initiated is free, and walks at liberty like a crowned and dedicated victim, joining in the revelry.

τρῐαγμος

dio13

The mention of Bacchic sister triads in my piece On the Orgia reminded me of another example, albeit with an Apollonian twist:

Later, when the Samians were oppressed with the tyranny of Polycrates, Pythagoras saw that life in such a state was unsuitable for a philosopher, and so planned to travel to Italy. At Delphi he inscribed an elegy on the tomb of Apollon, declaring that Apollon was the son of Silenos, but was slain by Pytho, and buried in the place called Triops, so named from the local mourning for Apollo by the three daughters of Triopas. (Porphyry, Life of Pythagoras 16)

For those who have eyes to see that obscure and oft overlooked passage contains a metric shit ton of significance. (Especially for those familiar with the bull-wolf-dragon and Black Sun mysteries of the Starry Bull tradition.)

Oh, and by the by – Triopas means “he who has three eyes” (from τρι- “three” + -ωπ- “see”) though the ending -ωψ, -οπος suggests a Pre-Greek origin.

You know what that reminds me of? No, not the tricephalous Giant from the Golden Horns of Gallehus, nor the Avestan Tištrya – though I can totally see why one’s mind might go there. I’m thinking about the three sisters from White-Bear King Valemon and the Black Bull of Norroway, which naturally makes one recall Vǫlundr and the Bear in Norse Tradition.

Circles, man. Fucking circles.

Il Ragno Industrioso

ladybird-spider

Charles Godfrey Leland, Etruscan Roman Remains in Popular Tradition p. 265-66

This is an extremely curious and ancient formula of declaring that whatever one does is not to stop at a certain point. By means of it almost any action is turned into magic. Thus to find and pick up anything, at once converts it into a fetish, or insures that all will go well with it if we say when taking it: “I do not pick up”,–naming the object–“I pick up good luck, which may never abandon me!” It is an incantation of universal application, enabling one to secure a wish out of every chance occurrence.

The spider is also used in divination. I find the following in a popular chapbook:–

Il Ragno Industrioso. In the Book of Dreams, and in the works of the famous cabalists Rutilio Benicosa, Casamia, l’Indovino, Il Palmaverde, Nostradamus, and the ancient Sybils or Haruspices, we often find methods of divining the secret of getting numbers by the lottery. Among the many extraordinary experiments made, the most singular is that by means of the spider.

Take one of these insects-let it be very large-and put it, without hurting it, in a little box,on the bottom of which are many small pieces of paper, numbered from one to ninety. Cover it with a transparent veil, and give the spider time to weave a web.

Naturally the insect in going here and there will turn up certain numbers. These must be noted. Do this three times, and then let the spider go. Many have won lucky numbers in the lottery by means of this experiment.

It may be observed that it is necessary to the success of this sortilege that we let the spider go. So in several of the charms Of MARCELLUS, the animal used in such spells must be dismissed in safety–Ecce dimitto te vivam!

The spider, it may be observed, can also be used for other divination as well as for lucky numbers in the lottery. Thus, if you write “Yes” or “No,” she will turn up for you an affirmative or negative for any question, or select the names of friends or enemies, or pick out lucky days.