Saturday, August 21, 2021



E.R. Dodds, The Greeks and the Irrational (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1951 = Sather Classical Lectures, 25), p. 76 (notes omitted):
Dionysus was in the Archaic Age as much a social necessity as Apollo; each ministered in his own way to the anxieties characteristic of a guilt-culture. Apollo promised security: "Understand your station as man; do as the Father tells you; and you will be safe to-morrow." Dionysus offered freedom: "Forget the difference, and you will find the identity; join the θίασος, and you will be happy to-day." He was essentially a god of joy, πολυγηθής, as Hesiod calls him; χάρμα βροτοῖσιν, as Homer says. And his joys were accessible to all, including even slaves, as well as those freemen who were shut out from the old gentile cults. Apollo moved only in the best society, from the days when he was Hector's patron to the days when he canonised aristocratic athletes; but Dionysus was at all periods δημοτικός, a god of the people.

The joys of Dionysus had an extremely wide range, from the simple pleasures of the country bumpkin, dancing a jig on greased wineskins, to the ὠμόφαγος χάρις of the ecstatic bacchanal. At both levels, and at all the levels between, he is Lusios, "the Liberator"—the god who by very simple means, or by other means not so simple, enables you for a short time to stop being yourself, and thereby sets you free.

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