May 14, 2009

The new god on the block

Welcome to Goat Rope's ongoing series on Everything You Always Wanted to Know (or not) About Greek Tragedy. If you want to skip that part, there are links and comments about current events below. If you like this kind of thing, please click on earlier entries.

As mentioned before, Athenian tragedy was performed as part of the festival of the god Dionysus, the god associated with the vine, wine, growing things, ecstasy and other fun stuff. The situation of his birth was described in yesterday's post.

His childhood was a bit rough as well. According to some myths, Hera, the jealous wife of Zeus had him ripped to pieces (like a grape maybe?), but he was reassembled by his grandmother Rhea.

Once he was mature, he went from place to place introducing grape cultivation. He was followed by wild women or maenads who flouted social conventions, tore wild animals to pieces for food and carried a rod tipped with pine cones which was a symbol of the cult.

I kind of picture Dionysus as being a bit like Jim Morrison in his prime. And when he came to town, it was kinda like a really wild Doors concert, only more so. Women would abandon hearth and home to head out to the wild places.

He was also one of the few gods who had the power to bring people back from the dead. He rescued his mother Semele from the underworld and secured immortality for her. For this reason, he was sometimes associated with mystery cults aimed at securing some kind of decent life after death for humans.

He was not a war god or even overly sexual (by Olympian standards), but woe to anyone to tried to obstruct the progress of his cult. That's the subject of a tragedy by Euripides, about which more tomorrow.

SOCIAL SECURITY. Here's Robert Reich on the health of this New Deal program.

HELP WANTED? Here's Business Week on the mismatch between workers seeking work and the jobs that are out there.

PERFORMANCE PAY isn't all that common in the private sector, according to the Economic Policy Institute.




ACCC Forum said...

In Mary Renault's book The King must die, the hero Theseus leaves King Minos' daughter on an island after shee and some other ladies freak out and kill and eat some anaimals and people(?) during the Dyonisian frenzies. And in Fifre From Heaven, the young Alexander sneaks out to the woods and watches his priestess mom do the same sort of thing. Sort of "Girls Gone Wild!" in antiquity?

ACCC Forum said...

great spelloing huh?

El Cabrero said...

I love Mary Renault's books. I haven't read her ones about Alexander though. Have you read Steven Pressfield's Greek books?

By the way, I don't think Dionysus was a stickler for spelling.