This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
The identifications of foreign with Greek or Roman deities, common in classical authors, are usually misleading. In the cases, however, of Ares and Dionysus we have other evidence of their Thracian extraction. Ares, the half-barbarian war-spirit, holds a secondary position in Hellas. Though his cult was very ancient in several places (e. g. Thebes) he was generally thought to have come from Thrace, whence his worship was derived in prehistoric times (Roscher, s. v., Pauly-Wissowa, ii. 642). Dionysus, though the name is probably Greek, had an oracle among the Bessi (vii. 111 n.). His strange cult, prominent features in which are his connexion with the under-world, the orgiastic ecstasy, &c., had no great hold on Greece in the Homeric age, and only won its way to a slow and gradual recognition by becoming Hellenized and humanized. The true home of Dionysus was in Southern Thrace between the Axius and the Hebrus, where he had many local names, e. g. Sabazius. His cult was closely related to the Cybele cult of the kindred Phrygians (Rohde, Psyche, ii. 1; Ramsay on Μήν, C. and B. i. 105; and in general, Farnell, G. C. v. 85 f.). Artemis (cf. iv. 33) is probably Bendis, worshipped even at Athens (Plat. Rep. i. 1. 327 A; Xen. Hell. ii. 4. 11), or the kindred Edonian war-goddess Cotys or Cotytto (Strabo, p. 470). Both may be connected with the great Mother of Asia Minor, a goddess of fertility of whom the Ephesian Artemis is a form; cf. Append. I and Farnell, G. C. ii. 473 f., 587 f. Hermes appears to have been the chief of the Cabiri (Roscher, Myth. Lex. 2360); with his cult compare the Gallic (Caesar, B. G. vi. 17; Rhys, Hibbert Lectures, pp. 5-20 and ch. iv) and German (Tac. Germ. 9) worship of Mercurius. The latter, Odin, would seem to be like Hermes a wind god, and this may be true also of the Thracian deity. It seems improbable that the Thracians were content with so small a pantheon. Indeed, even according to H., some of them worshipped the Cabiri (ii. 51 n.) and others Salmoxis (iv. 95 n.).
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.