Greek Myth: Demeter and Dionysus

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Greek Myth: Demeter and Dionysus
2010-11-07 14:14:17
Lecture Demeter Dionysus

Myths of Fertility
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    - root of name
    - goddess of ... / stands for
    - daughter?,
    - what are they together
    - what other name does she have,
    • - (-meter = "mother") --> mother goddess
    • - goddess of the fruitfulness of crops, especially wheat; of grain and rich harvest
    • - daughter is Persephone.
    • - Together they are the "two goddesses" - the permanently fertile earth and the seasonal giver of grain
    • - Persephone = Kore (daughter or girl), Proserpine. She is a parthenos - unmarried virgin
  2. Persephone's abduction by Hades
    Persephone is playing in the field, bunches of flowers keep going --> draws her away. Mysterious figure on horse and chariot comes up from the earth and takes her away.

    Demeter doesnt know where she went --> searches the earth, and distracted from her duties on earth (fruitfulness --> winter). Sits by a well in Eleusis (king Celeus and queen Metaniera); his daughters see her, offer her a place to stay, and the family ends up giving her a job caring for the baby boy Demophoon. Demeter loves him so much that she tries to make him immortal (put him in the fire), but mom is suspicious, spies on Demeter, and when she sees her baby in the fire stops Demeter. Shows who she really is, now child will never be immortal. You must set up a shrine to me here in Eleusis, b/c you didnt trust

    Demeter keeps searching, situation getting worse, until finally Zeus tells her that Hades has her (symbollic of death) --> she must come above for part of the time, so D is happy, but must return for oart of the time too because she at 7 pommegranite seeds (red --> blood, seed --> semen). She has taken Hades into her body.
  3. Allegory and Etiology of Persephone's abduction
    allegory of seasons

    • etiology:
    • marriage: abduction, hidden away, passes from maiden to wife (greeks viewed marriage as violent

    • presence of death in the world: she has to go back down because she has eaten the seeds of death, into the arms of Hades.
    • symbolically, every time she goes down, she dies
  4. Eleusinian Mysteries
    mystai - being initiated into the secrets of mystery (goddess appears to tell info) But very secret cult, not allowed to give away secres

    • Telesterion - temple of Demeter, if you revealed what happened in here you could be killed
    • Anaktoron - palace inside of the temple, only the hierophant can go in - shows terrible things
  5. Triptolemus
    Demeter teaches him how to take seeds from a plant, sow the earth, plant seeds, and reap the gifts.

    Gives humans the gift of Agriculture
  6. Cadmus
    • - son Agenor (king of Tyre)
    • - king of Thebes
    • - father of Semele, Ino, Agave, Autonoe
    • - Grandpather of Dionysus and Pentheus

    - origins
    - when introduced into greece?
    - portrayed as ...
    - what kind of dress
    - myth motifs
    • - not Greek born, comes in and then becomes prominent --> Eastern ties to Thrace, Phrygia
    • - late introduction into Greece
    • - portrayed as a strange and foreign god --> unlike other Olympians, seems to come from Asia.
    • - Oriental Dress (long robes)
    • - Myth motifs: 1. travels --> goes back east. 2. resistance of Greeks to him as a god
  8. Dionysis; name: "twice born"
    1. Death of Semele (asks Zeus to show her his true form --> incinerated), born from Zeus' thigh

    2. given to/nursed by Ino and Athamis / the Nymphs of Nysa. Hera persecutes them --> afflicts them with maddness --> Ino kills her baby and runs off a cliff
  9. Dionysys, god of ...
    • - Vegetation (especially the vine, ivy)
    • - wine (and other fluids)
    • - animals (esp. bear, panther, lion, leopard)
    • - fertility "dying god; death and rebirth
  10. Dionysus: cult and worship

    - thiasus
    - thrysus
    - omophagia
    - sparagmos
    - Bacchae, Bacchantes, Maenads
    • - thiasus: groups, usually women, perform orgiastic rituals
    • - thrysus: phallic symbol. Members hold this to show they are Dionysus' followers
    • - Sparagmos: hunt
    • - Omophagia: devour raw
    • - Bacchae, Bacchantes, Maenads: wild and crazy followers
  11. Dionysus: worship characteristics

    **opposed by who?
    • - ekstasis "standing outside of oneself" - he comes and possesses them
    • - enthousiasmos: "god within" --> enthusiasm
    • - irrational behavior - liberation from constraints of reason, tradition
    • - furious music and dance (ecstasy)
    • - intense emotion
    • - loss of personal identity
    • - also the god of wine

    **opposed by Hera: in charge of women's role in the family, stability
  12. Dionysus: background to myths

    - how does he discover wine making?
    - why does he wander for so long
    • - discovers wine making in Nysa
    • - Hera strikes him with madness --> he wanders in delirium
  13. Dionysus: path of wanderings
    • - through Egypt, Syria
    • - Phrygia: madness cured by Cybele
    • - crosses Euphrates and goes as far as India before returning
  14. Dionysus Wanderings on the way back:

    1. Midas of Phrygia
    returns through Phrygia: Silenus (follower of D.) is trapped, so he goes to king Midas (horses ears). D. finds his friend in good care, offers Midas anything he wants --> he wants anything he touches to turn to gold. But happens with his food, drink, and daughter, so D takes it back. Midas must bathe in the river => gold deposits in the river.
  15. Dionysus Wanderings on the way back:

    2. Naxos, Ariadne
    goes to the island of Naxos, finds the beautiful Ariadne (daughter of Minos). Abandoned by Theseus, he marries her.

    (she?) helped Theseus kill the Minotaur (Crete)
  16. Dionysus Wanderings on the way back:

    3. Lycurgus of Thrace
    passes through Thrace (ruled by Lycurgus) => opposes him; assembles an army to try to drive D out of Thrace; Lyc. is either struck blind or there is a famine in Thrace and so the people stake him to a pole in the woods to be eaten by flesh-eating horses.
  17. Dionysus Wanderings on the way back:

    4. Proteus of Argos
    Argos: King Proteus and his daughters (the Proteids) are skeptical of Dionysus. while all other women are running out to go worship, they stay inside, weaving and laughing. The room changes to the outdoors, but they still dont recognize it as legit. All struck with madness --> eat one of their babies raw and run out into the wilderness
  18. Dionysus Wanderings on the way back:

    5. Icarius of Attica
    Attica (Icarium): there is a man Icarius (not Icarus) who lives humbly with his daughter Erigone and dog Maera. Icarius welcomes Dionysus, so D. shows him how to make wine. Icarius shows everyone the wine, they get sick, think that he is trying to poison them ==> kill him. Murderers must be fined; Erigone starts to look but dog Maera finds first. They both commit suicide. Festival in Athens to Erigone, Maera becomes a star.
  19. Dionysus Wanderings on the way back:

    6. (final) Pentheus of Thebes (story in Bacchae by Euripides)
    Thebes: D. comes back to find Thebes ruled by Pentheus (son of Semele's (D's mom) sister Agave. Cadmus is still alive, but too old to rule. The sisters of Semele had been slandering her and Dionysus (D. is not really a god, Semele did not really have sex with Zeus) --> they must pay.

    Most women (and Cadmus and Tiresias (most famous prophet in Thebes)) go to the fields to honor Dionysus. Pentheus has no respect for Dionysus, doesnt go. A young man (D) appears at his court and tells him to stop being stupid --> Pentheus throws him in prison. There is an EQ right after, the prison falls apart. A man (D) returns and tries to help him --> "you should go see what you're dealing with before you gather an army." So P. decides to go spy.

    But D. says you must dress like a woman, and P. agrees (being taken over by god). They go to the woods and climb up a tree. Then the women see him. His mom and his sister rip him apart (think they are ripping an animal - big sacrifice, ecstasy). Bring back the head to Cadmus and then she realizes what she has done.

    The body cant be buried (ripped apart) so cant go to the underworld --> punished the sisters of semele for slandering her. Dionysus exiles them. shows the power of the god
  20. Common theme/motif in the myths of Dionysus' wanderings

    Dionysus god of ...
    resistance by the greeks -> madness, death

    god of Tragedy ("trag" = goat, "oidia" = song)
  21. Dionysus and the Pirates

    - what source

    - what happened
    - from the Homeric Hymn to Dionysus

    D. is walking on the shore as a young boy, and some Pirates (Tyrrhenian: Etruscan) capture him and put him in chains. But then strange things happen: the chains dont stay on his wrists. The Pilot wars the capitan, capitan laughs. Then the mast/oars sprout vines, and wild animals manifest onboard. Pirates jump overboard --> turned into dolphins (supposed to rescue sailors in danger) - expiate for their crimes. Only the pilot is saved, D. promises to make him rich