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DIONY´SIA (Διονύσια). Dionysus as well as Apollo had a share at Delphi as one of the chief Hellenic gods. “Dionysus was the god of the peasantry, the bestower of the fullest festive enjoyment in the free conditions of a life led according to Nature” (Curtius, Hist. of Greece, 2.78). Hence we are not surprised to meet his festivals everywhere. Thebes is said to have been his birthplace (Paus. 9.12, 3), whence his worship spread to Corinth and Sicyon (lb. 2.2, 7); to Euboea, where he was educated; and Naxos, where he was united with Ariadne. In Athens his worship is said to have been introduced by Amphictyon (Ath. 2.38); that is, that it belonged to the Ionic Amphictyony. For other legends connected with the introduction of Dionysiac worship into Attica, see Suidas, Μελαναιγίδα Διόνυσον, Ἀπατούρια: Hesych., s. v. Ἑλεύθερος: Steph. Byz Σημαχίδαι: Paus. 1.2, 5; 38, 8: Schol. on Ach. 243; and especially Ribbeck, Anfänge und Entwichelung des. Dionysuskultes in Attika. No less old in Attica was the worship of the Icarian Dionysus (Dict. Mythology, s. v. Icarius). In historic times we find Dionysia held at Delos, Tenos, Syrus, Ceos, Amorgos, Paros, Astypalaea (Hermann, Gottesd. Alterth. 65, 11); at Miletus, Teos, Smyrna (ib. 66, 9), and at Corcyra in the west (lb. 68, 1): cf. Preller, Griech. Myth. i.3 557 sqq.

But there had been another form of the worship of Dionysus, quite un-Hellenic, and a scandal in their eyes (ψόγος ἐς Ἕλληνας μέγας, Eur. Bacch. 778), which was wildly orgiastic. In very early times, it originated in Thrace and Macedonia, whence it spread into Asia Minor, where it united with the Oriental mysteries of Cybele, and then reacted on the Hellenic ceremonies. The mystic forms of the Bacchic worship for the most part go back to Orpheus. These, which are known as the trieteric festivals of Dionysus, i. e. occurring every other year (τριετηρίδες, Eur. Bacch. 133; Verg. A. 4.302), first gained ground, in Greece proper, in Boeotia, coming perhaps across the sea by the islands; for, as Preller has shown (in Pauly, 2.1065), such orgiastic rites are found in a vast number of the islands. And, like a fire, they soon spread all through Greece. There were revels in Parnassus (Soph. Ant. 1126), in Phocis (Paus. 6.26, 1), Messenia, Arcadia, even Sparta (Ael. VH 3.42): see Preller, l.c. 1066. The festivals were held on mountains, with blazing torches (Eur. Bacch. 133, 146), in dark winter nights (Ov. Fast. 1.394). The votaries were in large part women, and were known by many names,--Maenads, Thyiads, Clodones, Mimallones, Bassarides, &c. They were clothed in fawn skins [NEBRIS], carried thyrsi [THYRSUS], and in their ecstasies used to hunt wild animals, tear them in pieces, and sometimes eat them raw. In very early times, human sacrifice seems to have been offered to Dionysus Zagreus (Paus. 9.8, 2), and Themistocles before the battle of Salamis sacrificed three young Persian prisoners to Dionysus Omestes (Plut. Them. 13). The splendours of trieteric Bacchic revelry in excelsis are brilliantly depicted in the choruses and messengers' speeches of the Bacchae; cf. also Preller in Pauly, 2.1064-1067.

But the genuine Hellenic worship of Dionysus was of a more cheerful and less frantic nature. It was simple, if somewhat coarse, enjoyment. When the vintage was over and the must had fermented, Dionysus, the god of the grape, was honoured by the country folk with the best they could offer, with sacrifices of oxen and goats, those enemies of the god who used to eat his vines: and, in their hearty and natural revelry, they used to march about in procession, and dance and sing, and dress themselves up in odd costumes. Many writers, such as Preller, K. O. Müller, &c., tell us how the worshipper was filled with an intense desire “to fight, to conquer, and to suffer in common with the god.” Such ideas did certainly arise in connexion with the cult of Dionysus; but most probably they were later additions, coming from the mysteries and partly belonging to the trieteric votaries of Dionysus as Zagreus. Of the Attic Dionysia we have most knowledge. These, which we now [p. 1.638]proceed to describe, though mainly Hellenic and natural wine-feasts, had suffered somewhat from the influence of the Thracian and Asiatic mysteries, and exhibit a strange compound of what is ridiculous and grotesque with what is solemn and serious. The country Dionysia alone remained free from the influence of the mystic Bacchic rites (August Mommsen, Heortologie, p. 77). But regular trieteric revels are not found in Attica (Schömann, Alterth. ii.3 503).

The Attic festivals are generally allowed to be four in number,--the country Dionysia, the Lenaea, the Anthesteria, and the Great Dionysia; for O. Gilbert's view (Die Festzeiten der attischen Dionysien, 1872), that the first three are parts of the same festival, is demolished by Schömann (op. Cit. ii.3 597-599).

I. The Lesser or Country Dionysia (τὰ μικρὰ or τὰ κατ̓ ἀγρούς) were very ancient wine-feasts, celebrated in the various demes throughout Attica, from about the 8th to 11th of Poseideon (= about Dec. 19-22), under the presidency of the demarchs. As A. Mommsen (op. cit. 324 ff.) points out, we must not suppose with Kannegiesser, Boeckh, and Preller, that they were vintage-feasts: for (a) Poseideon is too late for the vintage, which was usually about the equinox, sometimes extending to the beginning of November, but not later (Plin. Nat. 18.319) ; (b) the Lesser Dionysia are called θεοίνια (Harpocr. s. v.), i. e. festivals of θέοινος: cf. Aesch. Fragm. 397, πάτερ θέοινε μαινάδων ζευκτήριε, which Tzetzes (ad Lycophr. 1247) explains as θεὸς οἴνου εὑρέτης, and which may be explained as the god himself turning into wine (cf. οὗτος θεοῖσι σπένδεται θεὸς γεγώς, Eur. Bacch. 284); (c) intoxication is one of the marks of the Dionysiac festival, and must cannot intoxicate, it needs fermentation. The country Dionysia, then, was a wine-feast, and we find it celebrated with dramatic performances in Collytus, Piraeus, Salamis, Eleusis, Aixone, Phlya, Myrrhinus, &c. (see A. Müller, Griech. Bühnenalt. 317, 318). We have an excellent picture of the coarse sort of thing it was in the Acharnians, 240 ff. There is a procession: the daughter of Dicaeopolis marches in front as κανηφόρος, and the slave Xanthias carries behind an erect phallus, to which Dicaeopolis sings a rollicking song, &c.

II. The Lenaea (Λήναια or τὰ ἐν Λίμναις, Hesych., Suid.; or Διονύσια ἐπὶ Αηναίῳ, C. I. G. 157, 11) was a town-festival. Preller (op. cit. 2.1060) supposes that the Lenaea and the country Dionysia were originally one feast, but were separated after the temple of the Lenaeon in Limnae got included within the city; the Lenaea was then put off a month later, to allow the country folk to celebrate their festival in their separate districts, and afterwards to bring their wine to the city and enjoy the festivity there also. Mommsen, however (op. cit. 338), holds that Limnae was included in the city long before Athens knew anything about Dionysia. He thinks (p. 46; cf. 73) that the Lenaea was originally a trieteric festival, held in the intercalary month as a sort of makeshift, not to let the month be entirely without a feast. A difficulty still attaches to the name Λήναια, which certainly points to a vintage-feast: but Λῆναι are Bacchae, votaries intoxicated by the god accordingly the word is not derived from ληνὸς in the sense of “a wine-press,” but in that of “a vat” ; for the produce of the wine-press is not, as we have seen, intoxicating at that stage. The festival was certainly celebrated during historical times in Gamelion (Bekk. Anecd. 235, 6; Schol. on Hes. Op. 506), but there is great uncertainty as to the exact days. After a full discussion, Mommsen decides (op. cit. pp. 332-337) for 8th to 11th (=about Jan. 28-31), though Boeckh (C. I. G. 523, 21) considers the κιττώσεις Διονύσου of the 19th refer to the Lenaea. Another name for the festival or part of it was probably Ambrosia [AMBROSIA], though this matter is not quite decided. At the Lenaea there was a great feasting and a procession (Law of Evagoras, ap. Dem. Mid. 517.10), during which there was plenty of jesting ἐξ ἁμαξῶν (Schol. on Aristoph. Kn. 547), though this jesting appears to have been a feature introduced into the Lenaea from the Anthesteria (Phot. p. 565, 14). It was a cheerier and less pompous festival than the great city Dionysia, for strangers did not take part in it (Aristoph. Ach. 504). Dithyrambs were sung on the first day, and the victor got an ivy crown (Mommsen, op. cit. p. 342).

III. About the date of the Anthesteria, there can be no doubt. It consisted of three days, called the Λιθοίγια, the Χόες, and the Χύτροι. The Λιθοίγια was held on the 11th of Anthesterion (=about March 2nd): see Plut. Symp. 3.7, 1; 8.10, 3; the Χόες on the 12th, and the Χύτροι on the 13th (Harpocr. 184, 24, and 186, 9). The whole festival is sometimes called by one of its days, viz. the chief one, the Χόες (Preller, op. cit. 2.1062: cf. Phot. 269; Thuc. 2.15, 5; and Mommsen, p. 348). (1) The Pithoigia was the preliminary opening of the winecasks, and general preparation for the Choes. “Among our paternal customs,” says the Scholiast on Hes. Op. 370, “is a festival called Pithoigia, during which it is not lawful to debar either slave or hired labourer from the enjoyment of the wine; but when we (i.e. the masters) have sacrificed, we must give all a share of the good gifts of Dionysus.” Indeed, during all the days of the Anthesteria, the rustic slaves had leisure, and a verse tells of the somewhat brusque reminder to them that the feast is over: θύραζε, Κᾶρες:οὐκέτ̓ Ἀνθεστήρια (Zenob. Cent. 4.33). The schoolboys appear to have got holidays during the Anthesteria (Theophr. Char. 30 (17)); and some days prior to this Christmas of the Athenians, there was a regular fair at Athens, bringing a conflux of foreign traders (cf. Aristoph. Ach. 719 ff.; and Mommsen, p. 352). The fastening of a rope round the temple in Limnae doubtless took place on the afternoon of the Pithoigia (περισχοινίσαι, Poll. 8.141), though Alciphron seems to refer it to the Χύτροι, to which festival it probably at first and in essence belonged, but afterwards it was effected before the first event of the Choes. During the afternoon the procession assembled, those taking part in it, especially the children, who were allowed to join from three years old upwards (for did not Eurysaces, son of Ajax, take part in the festival in times long past? Philostr. Heroic. 314, 11), gaily adorned with crowns and flowers. At six o'clock the next day, (2) the Choes began. The procession started, no doubt with torches, the common people following [p. 1.639]in waggons. It originally represented the entry of the Wine-god as the Liberator (Ἐλευθερεύς), from without the city into the little temple of the Ceramicus (Paus. 1.29, 2),--though Preller (Gr. Myth. i.3 556) attributes this procession to the Greater Dionysia, considering Mommsen's reference of it to the Anthesteria “certainly erroneous,” --and his incorporation into the city, by union with the noblest woman of the land, the wife of the king. The marriage does not appear in the Orphic theology; but there were many mystic accretions. All this part of the ceremony was symbolical. It was a marriage procession, and the votaries of the god--the Horae, Nymphae, Bacchae--led him along with curious pipings and moanings, and songs which tell the deeds of Orpheus and the stories of the gods (Philostr. Vit. Apoll. p. 158, Kayser). Anon he is joined by the Basilinna, accompanied by fourteen venerable priestesses (γεραιραὶ or γεραραί), and she is solemnly betrothed to the god in secret. Within the temple in Limnae, which is opened on this day only in the year, she administers by the Sacred Herald to the priestesses a vow, which declares the most spotless purity of life, and exact scrupulousness in attending to the festivals of the Theoinia and the Iobakcheia (i.e. Greater Mysteries), and which the priestesses swear to, laying their hands on their baskets; afterwards she offers a mystic sacrifice, wherein she prays for all blessings for the state, and then remains for the night in the cella of the temple (see Dem. c. Neaer. pp. 1370-1, § § 74-78; and Mommsen, op. cit. pp. 358-360). Preller (in Pauly, 2.1062) compares this sacrifice to the Roman Augurium Salutis (Cic. de Div. 1.4. 7, 105), and the mystic marriage with Dionysus to that of the Doge of Venice to the Adriatic. The next morning was given to rest, and in the early afternoon the drinking began. The state had given money to the poor to buy wine and provisions (Plut. Reip. ger. praec. 25; Boeckh, Sthh.3 1.280). All salaries had been paid, even those of the poor Sophists (Ath. x. p. 437). Guests are invited, the hosts supplying all the accessories, such as tables, crowns, cushions, &c., while the guests brought their own κίσται containing food, and χόες of wine (Aristoph. Ach. 1085 ff.). The place of festivity was perhaps the neighbourhood of the theatre in the Lenaean region (Mommsen, p. 363). At the proclamation of the herald, contests in drinking took place, and whoever drank up his χοῦς of wine first got a prize (Aristoph. Ach. 999 ff. From this on to the end of the play, the scene is laid during the Χόες). The amusement of the ASCOLIASMOS (ἀσκωλιάζοντας πίνειν) is remarked by Alciphron (3.51, 3) to be un-Attic. Strangers took part in the festival, of whom there were great numbers in Athens, owing to the fair and the mysteries at Agrae, which occurred shortly after. The festival was administered by the Archon Basileus, as it had been by king Pandion originally (Schol. on Ach. 961). But, besides all the revelry, there is a note of solemnity. If a libation is poured out to the Jolly God, there is another to Hermes Chthonius (Schol. Ach. 1076). Photius (269, 21) tells us that the Choes was a μιαρὰ ἡμέρα, on which the souls of the dead used to walk on earth (cf. the mundus patens of the Romans, Marquardt, Staatsverw. 3.352). Eustathius (ad Il. 24.526) says that the Pithoigia also was ἀποφράς. The mythical origin of this drinking on an unlucky day was the device of king Pandion, whereby Orestes, still pursued by the Erinnyes, might yet take part in the festivity (see Schol. on Ach. 961). The pursuing Erinnyes are like the shades which walked this day on earth (Voigt in Roscher's Lexikon der Myth. 1.1072). On into the evening and night the revelry continues: but there is a touch of seriousness in the last act of the festival. The drinker winds his garland round his χοῦς, brings it to the priestess at Limnae, and, pouring out the remnants of the wine as a libation, offers the crown to the god, and in so doing makes his libation and offering to the dead (Ath. x. p. 437; cf. Aristoph. Fragm. 480 Meineke=488 Kock; Plut. Arist. 21; Mommsen, p. 365).

(3) We are now at the Chytri (Χύτροι), a feast to the dead, where everything is solemn and serious. The administration was probably in the hands of the king archon. The feast got its name because food, mostly vegetables, were brought in pots (χύτραι), as sacrifices to the Shades and to Hermes Chthonius (Schol. on Ran. 218); the story was that the offering was first made by the survivors to the shades of those who perished in Deucalion's flood. There is no question but that it was celebrated on the 13th of Anthesterion (Harpocr. 186, 9); and if Didymus (ap. Schol. on Ach. 1076) says that the Chytri and the Choes were celebrated on one day, the explanation is that the revelry of the Choes extended into the night of the 13th (Mommsen, 346). The first ceremony was bringing water (Etym. M. p. 744, ὑδροφόρια ἑορτὴ Ἁθήνῃσι πένθιμος ἐπὶ τοῖς ἐν τῷ κατακλυσμῷ ἀπολομένοις); then into a pit, about a cubit deep, outside the Lenaean district but in the neighbourhood, into which legend said the waters of the Flood passed away, there was poured ground corn and honey kneaded together (Paus. 1.18, 7). Then fourteen altars were erected (ἵδρυσιν, Alciphr. 2.3, 11, and Meineke ad loc.), on which the Γεραιραὶ offered pots of πανσπερμία after women solemnly carrying them thither on their heads (Etym. M. 227; Schol. on Plutus, 1197, 1198; Ach. 1076; Ran. 218). None of the offerings were eaten. There were no doubt cyclic choruses at the Chytri (Aristoph. Frogs 212 ff.); but the χυτρινοὶ ἀγῶνες were certainly contests of actors, not dramas [COMOEDIA p. 520].

On the whole the Anthesteria was in essence a feast of drinking, when the year's wine was brought into the city; Mommsen (p. 370) thinks it may have been originally celebrated to Kronos and Zeus Kronion, but certainly in historical times to Dionysus Eleuthereus. It mainly represented the introduction of the Dionysiac cult into Athens and its incorporation with the Athenian religion, and was grafted on to a festival of the dead. But all the ceremonies cannot be understood without bringing in the Orphic theology, which tells how Zeus made his son Dionysus king of all things for a day (see Lobeck, Aglaoph. 552), and the subsequent death of Dionysus (as the Chytri of mourning follow the Choes of joy) at the hands of the giants, who cut him into fourteen pieces (hence fourteen altars), and so on. For details, see Mommsen, pp. 371-373. [p. 1.640]

IV. The Greater or City Dionysia (τὰ μέγαλα or τὰ ἐν ἄστει were probably celebrated from the 9th to 13th of Elaphebolion (= about March 28-April 2). Mommsen (pp. 58-60) thinks that these Dionysia must have been introduced either in the time of the Pisistratidae. or in that of Cimon and Pericles, probably the latter. They took the place of an earlier lyrical festival to Apollo. The 8th was the ASCLEPIEIA and the προάγων (Aeschin. Ctesiph. 63.67). At this the poets, choregi, actors, and chorus appeared before the public in festal attire, but not in theatrical costume (Schol. to Aeschin. l.c.), and formally announced the dramas which were going to be enacted, and solicited the kind attention and favour of the audience (hence Ulpian on Dem. Androt. 611.59, προάγωνές εἰσι λόγοι οἱ προευτρεπίζοντες ἡμῖν τῶν δικαστῶν τῆν ἀκοήν): cf. A. Müller, Gr. Bühnen-alterthümer, pp. 363-366. On the 9th there was the procession (πομπή and the carouse (κῶμος); on the 10th the lyrical contest of boys and men. (We should probably insert καὶ οἱ ἄνδρες the law of Evagoras, Dem. Mid. 517.10: see Bergk in Rhein. Mus. xxxiv. p. 31.) From the 11th to the 13th were dramatic performances, and on the beginning of the 14th the Pandia. This is Mommsen's (pp. 387-391) arrangement as opposed to K. F. Hermann's (Gottesdienstl. Alterth. § 59, 5, 6), who puts the 15th as the last day of the Dionysia. Mommsen bases his order mainly on the fact that the Peace of Nicias was ratified on the 14th (Thuc. 4.118), which can hardly have been a feast-day; also the 14th was the full moon, and the Pandia was probably a full-moon feast; festivals moreover seldom passed beyond the full moon: and besides Calidorus in Plautus (Pseud. 1.3, 87), on the day before the Dionysia, in asking Ballio to wait six days, virtually asks him to wait till the festival was over. The Dionysia were great holidays. During them prisoners were released on parole (Ulpian on Dem. Androt. 614.68), and no one was allowed to seize the goods of a debtor (Law ap. Dem. Mid. 518.10). Even Plato thought it allowable to get drunk during the festivals of the god of wine (Legg. 6.775 C). As to the ceremonial, early on the 9th (i. e. at night-fall) the image of Dionysus by Alcamenes (Paus. 1.20, 3) was taken from its “hearth and home” (ἐσχάρα) in the Lenaeon, and brought into the theatre, by the Ephebi (according to an inscription in Mommsen, p. 392), who gave a bull for sacrifice in the temple after the πομπή. The image was set up in the orchestra (Dio Chrys. xxxi. p. 386, Dindorf). The priest of Dionysus had doubtless important functions in the setting up of it. Later on, when day had come, there was the πομπή, which was of a much more dignified and orderly nature than that of the Anthesteria or Lenaea. It was partly on foot, partly on carts, but apparently there were no waggons. (Mommsen, p. 396.) In the agora a cyclic chorus danced round the altar to the twelve gods (Xen. Hipp. 3, 2). The goal of the procession was the Lenaeon. Strangers took part in the festival, of whom there were considerable numbers in Athens, as the allies used to come and pay their tribute in Elaphebolion (Boeckh, Staatshaushaltung, i.3 218; Schol. on Ach. 504.). The State gave victims (C. I. G. 157), and sometimes other bodies did so likewise: e. g. the Ephebi, as we have seen. On the morning of the 10th the lyrical contests for choruses of boys and men began [CHOREGUS]. We have a splendid dithyramb of Pindar's composed for the Dionysia (Fragm. 75, ed. Bergk). A κῶμος by the victorious competitors followed. It is in relation to this part of the feast that Dionysus was honoured as μελπόμενος (Paus. 1.2, 5; 31, 6). From the 11th to 13th dramas were exhibited, a tragic trilogy in the morning and a comedy in the afternoon. The administration of the feast was in the hands of the Archon Eponymus, assisted by ἐπιμεληταί (Poll. 8.89; cf. Dem. Mid. 519.15). For a full account of the dramatic performances held on the different festivals to Dionysus, see COMOEDIA, TRAGOEDIA, THEATRUM; and for minor festivals connected with Dionysus, see BRAURONIA, OSCHOPHORIA.

On the whole subject of the Dionysia, see Boeckh, Vom Unterschiede der Lenäen, Anthesterien, und läindlichen Dionysien, in the Abhandlungen der Akad. der Wiss. zu Berlin, 1816-1817; C. F. Hermann, Gottesd. Alterthümer, § § 57-59; Preller in Pauly, 2.1056-1067, and his Griech. Mythologie, i.3 544-593; August Mommsen, Heortologie der Athener, pp. 323-373, 387-398; Schömann, Alterth. ii.3 487-504; Voigt in Roscher's Ausführliches Lexikon der Griechischen und Römischen Mythologie, 1.1069-1075. Many illustrations depicting Bacchic worship are to be found in Mr. Sandys' edition of the Bacchae.

For the worship of Dionysus in Italy, see BACCHANALIA and LIBERALIA


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