Dionysus
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Gather the blood of scarlet bunches, the tears of my golden clusters -
Take the victim of bliss to the whetstone of grief,
The purple of suffering to the whetstone of bliss;
Pour the fervent liquid of scarlet delights into my ardent Grail.

~ The Vineyard of Dionysus, Vyacheslav Ivanovich Ivanov 1866-1949

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"Many Greeks were sure that the cult of Dionysus arrived in Greece from Anatolia, but Greek concepts of where Nysa was, whether set in Anatolia, or in Libya ('away in the west beside a great ocean'), Ethiopia (Herodotus), or Arabia (Diodorus Siculus), are variable enough to suggest that a magical distant land was intended, perhaps named 'Nysa' to explain the god's unreadable name, as the 'god of Nysa.' Apollodorus seems to be following Pherecydes, who relates how the infant Dionysus, god of the grapevine, was nursed by the rain-nymphs, the Hyades at Nysa. The Anatolian Hittites' name for themselves in their own language ("Nesili") was "Nesi," however. The Hittites' influence on early Greek culture is often unappreciated.

The above contradictions suggest to some that we are dealing not with the historical memory of a cult that is foreign, but with a god in whom foreignness is inherent. And indeed, Dionysus's name, as mentioned above, is found on Mycenean Linear B tablets as "DI-WO-NI-SO-JO",[11] and Karl Kerenyi[12] traces him to Minoan Crete, where his Minoan name is unknown but his characteristic presence is recognizable. Clearly, Dionysus had been with the Greeks and their predecessors a long time, and yet always retained the feel of something alien."

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" 'Following the torches as they dipped and swayed in the darkness, they climbed mountain paths with head thrown back and eyes glazed, dancing to the beat of the drum which stirred their blood' [or 'staggered drunkenly with what was known as the Dionysos gait']. 'In this state of ekstasis or enthusiasmos, they abandoned themselves, dancing wildly and shouting 'Euoi!' [the god's name] and at that moment of intense rapture became identified with the god himself. They became filled with his spirit and acquired divine powers.'

This practice is represented in Greek culture by the famous Bacchanals of the Maenads, Thyiades and Bacchoi, and it was no wonder that many Greek rulers considered the cult a threat to civilized society and wished to control it, if not suppress it outright. The latter failing and the former ultimately succeeding in the foundation of a domesticated Dionysianism in the form of a State Religion in Athens! However this was but one form of Dionysianism, a cult that took on many forms in different localities, often absorbing indigenous divinities, and their rites, similar to Dionysus. The Greek Bacchoi claimed that like wine, Dionysus had a different flavour in different regions, reflecting their mythical and cultural soil, their Terroir, and appeared under different names and manners in different regions. On remote Greek islands and the barbarous fringes of Thrace and Macedonia, or so it was rumored, the most primeval forms of Dionysianism continued to be practised, some of which still included human sacrifice as late as the Roman period. A taste of the nature of the primal Dionysos might be more readily accessible to modern readers when we consider that when the Macedonian Greeks reached India under Alexander and his heirs, they claimed Dionysos had gone ahead of them, in the form of a local deity known to us as Shiva. Bactrian coins were minted with both gods on either side, and strangely the two gods would evolve along similar lines."

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"'I will tell of Dionysos, the son of glorious Semele, how 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. Presently there came swiftly over the sparkling sea Tyrsenoi pirates on a well- decked ship - a miserable doom led them on. When they saw him they made signs to one another and sprang out quickly, and seizing him straightway, put him on board their ship exultingly; for they thought him the son of heaven-nurtured kings. They sought to bind him with rude bonds, but the bonds would not hold him, and the withes fell far away from his hands and feet: and he sat with a smile in his dark eyes. Then the helmsman understood all and cried out at once to his fellows and said: ‘Madmen! What god is this whom you have taken and bind, strong that he is? Not even the well-built ship can carry him. Surely this is either Zeus or Apollon who has the silver bow, or Poseidon, for he looks not like mortal men but like the gods who dwell on Olympos. Come, then, let us set him free upon the dark shore at once: do not lay hands on him, lest he grow angry and stir up dangerous winds and heavy squalls.’

So said he: but the master chided him with taunting words: ‘Madman, mark the wind and help hoist sail on the ship: catch all the sheets. As for this fellow we men will see to him: I reckon he is bound for Aigyptos (Egypt) or for Kypros or to the Hyperboreoi or further still. But in the end he will speak out and tell us his friends and all his wealth and his brothers, now that providence has thrown him in our way.’

When he had said this, he had mast and sail hoisted on the ship, and the wind filled the sail and the crew hauled taut the sheets on either side. But soon strange things were seen among them. First of all sweet, fragrant wine ran streaming throughout all the black ship and a heavenly smell arose, so that all the seamen were seized with amazement when they saw it.

And all at once a vine spread out both ways along the top of the sail with many clusters hanging down from it, and a dark ivy-plant twined about the mast, blossoming with flowers, and with rich berries growing on it; and all the thole-pins were covered with garlands. When the pirates saw all this, then at last they bade the helmsman to put the ship to land. But the god changed into a dreadful lion there on the ship, in the bows, and roared loudly: amidships also he showed his wonders and created a shaggy bear which stood up ravening, while on the forepeak was the lion glaring fiercely with scowling brows.

And so the sailors fled into the stern and crowded bemused about the right-minded helmsman, until suddenly the lion sprang upon the master and seized him; and when the sailors saw it they leapt out overboard one and all into the bright sea, escaping from a miserable fate, and were changed into dolphins. But on the helmsman Dionysos had mercy and held him back and made him altogether happy, saying to him: ‘Take courage, good [text missing]; you have found favour with my heart. I am loud-crying Dionysos Eribromos (loud-cyring) whom Kadmos’ daughter Semele bare of union with Zeus.' Hail, child of fair-faced Semele!"
- Homeric Hymn 7 to Dionysus