Saturday, 23 January 2010

Dionysus, tied up to cross dec, let loose march 24

"I sing of Dionysus, the son of glorious Semele. He appeared on a jutting headland by the shore of the fruitless sea, seeming like a stripling in the first flush of manhood: his rich, dark hair was waving about him, and on his strong shoulders he wore a purple robe …
Hail, child of fair-faced Semele! He who forgets you can in no wise order sweet song.
Homeric Hymn 7 to Dionysus

Data link Wislons Almanac.

Eleutherios (‘the liberator’) was an epithet that Dionysus shared with Eros. As Lenaeus, he was the god of the wine-press. With the epithet Liknites (‘he of the winnowing fan’) he was a fertility god connected with the mystery religions. Dionysus was also sometimes known as Lyaeus (‘he who releases’) as a god of relaxation and freedom from worry. In the Greek pantheon, Dionysus (along with Zeus) absorbed the role of Sabazius, a Phrygian deity. In the Roman pantheon, Sabazius became an alternative name for Bacchus.

According to Plutarch (3.527D), there was a procession of the carriers of a jar of wine and a vine, with someone leading a he-goat, followed by the Kanêphoros (Basket-bearer) who carried a basket of raisins. Then came the carriers of an erect, wooden phallus-pole, decorated with ivy and fillets, and finally the singer of the Phallikon (Phallic Song), which was addressed to ‘Phalês’.

A goat was sacrificed in the temple and a chorus around the altar sang the dithyrambic ode. This was a time of post-harvest celebration, in which old and new wine were mixed together, sometimes imbibed while saying “Wine new and old I drink, to cure me of illnesses new and old”. The medicine goddess Medetrina was also invoked

As Ovid (Fasti 5.345) wrote, “Bacchus loves flowers”, and they heralded his arrival by their appearance in the spring.

March 24-28 ish. The 14 Virgins...
"There were, in the first place, the ancient Dionysia, which were celebrated at Limnae, and in which appeared fourteen priestesses called Geraerae, who, before entering on their duties, swore that they were pure and chaste. "

Processions were held, in which women were dressed as Bacchae, Lenae, thyades, naiades, nymphs and so on. Revellers were dressed in fawn skins and wore mitres on their heads

They rode on asses, and dragged after them goats intended for sacrifice. In the town this frenzied parade was followed by priests carrying sacred vases, the first of which was filled with water; then followed young girls selected from the most distinguished families, and called Canephori, because they bore small baskets of gold full of all sorts of fruit and cakes, and of salt. The principal object among these, according to St Croix, was the phallus, made of the wood of a fig tree. (In the comedy of the Acharnians, by Aristophanes, one of the characters in the play says, "Come forward a little, Canephoros, and you, Xianthias, slave, place the Phallus erect.")

In the Thesaurus Eroticus Linguae Latinae, four kinds of phalli are described:

1 Those made of wood, chiefly of the fig tree (also used at the festivals of Priapus);

2 Those of glass, ivory, gold and silken stuffs and linen, as used by the Lesbian women as dildos;

3 Bread images shaped like penises;

4 Phallic drinking vessels of gold or glass.

After the Canephori girls came the Periphallia, a troop of men who carried long poles with phalli hung at the end of them; they were crowned with violets and ivy, and they walked repeating sexually explicit songs. These men were called Phallophori, not to be confused with the Ithyphalli, who, dressed provocatively and sometimes in women's costume, acting as though they were drunk, wore at their waist-bands huge phalli made of wood or leather. Among the Ithyphalli there were also those who dressed as Pan or the satyrs. Others, known as Lychnophori, looked after the mystic winnowing-fan, an emblem whose presence was held indispensable in these kinds of festivals.

Zeus then entrusted the Nysaean nymphs with the task of raising the infant Dionysus.

In birth-bowers new did Zeus Cronion
Receive his scion;
For hid in a cleft of his thigh,
By the gold clasps knit, did he lie
Safe hidden from Hera's eye
Till the Fates' day came.

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