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of the Eeformation on Hellas and Eome, their history,
literature, manners, arts, and arms, considered as isolated
and all-important nationaUties, leaves comparatively Uttle
to be accomplished in this particular direction ; yet that
modem historical research has deposed the lofty pair
from their lonely mediaeval position as the beginning and
end of the studies of antiquity. The historic telescope is
almost daily revealing to us more and more of the distant
empires of the Euphrates and the Nile, stars vast, bril-
liant, and remote, embedded in time as Sirius or Alde-
baran in space. The whole mighty family of the' Aryan

^ 'There is one mind common * Vide the general argument on

to all individual men.' Emerson, this point in Mr. Herbert Spenoer*8

Essay on History, Complete works, ISnt PrincipleB, part i. chap. i.
i. 1.



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THE SUBJECT AND ITS TREATMENT. 3

Nations, with Hellas and Eome as but two younger sisters
of the house, now demand the attention of the student of
the Past. The dim figures of Arabia, Syria, and Plioenicia,
are gradually becoming plainer through the scattering
mista of ages ; and, in a word, we have no longer only to
compare Hellas with Eome, or Eome with Hellas, but
must consider in connection the history and mutual
relations of many empires and nationalities — ^Kaldea,^
Assyria, Syria, Phoenicia, Arabia, Egypt, Persia, India,
Hellas, Italy. Something, but how httle, has long been
known of Kaldea, Assyria, and I^ypt ; we have had the
fragmentary notices of the Old Testament, the hearsay
histories of Herodotos and Diodoros, and the traditional
accounts of later writers such as Justinus. But the com-
bined information of all Hellenik and Latin authorities,
even were it reliable in every particular, which is far in-
deed from being the case, would be chiefly remarkable as
illustrating the scantiness of our knowledge of the subject.
Modem energy and talent, however, have revolutionised
the position ; the Sphinx has broken her majestic silence,
and hieroglyph and cuneiform reveal their long-hidden
secrets. These considerations might readily be greatly
amphfied, but the reader can easily follow out for himself
the conclusions to which they point ; sufficient to remark
here, that time has recently brought to hght a great quan-
tity of fresh and most important material, which not only
requires treatment, but also may modify or otherwise alter
our views respecting that which we already possess. It is
obvious that the force of these considerations is not re-
stricted to the Dionysiak Myth, or to any other particular
study; in each case a greater acquaintance with the
sources of knowledge warrants, or rather demands, a

* 'Bans les documents c\m4U grande nation d'Accad.' (Lenor-
formes, Kaldi est une tribu de la mant. La Magicy 270.)

B 2



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4 THE GREAT DIONYSIAK MYTH.

fresh adjustment of facts, and probably a consequent
alteration of opinion.

But it may perhaps be hastily asked : What has the
Hellenik Dionysos to do with hieroglyph or cuneiform,
with Egypt or Kaldea? The present work must be an
answer to the question ; and I urge the reader to weigh
the evidence carefully, and not to conclude at the outset
that any particular theory which he may chance to hold
is necessarily correct or exhaustive. Time was when men
believed that the sun moved round the earth, and that
all languages were derived from the Hebrew ; and it is
quite possible that many opinions which now pass un-
challenged, and as a matter of course, may ultimately be
found to be as wanting in truth as numbers of admitted
errors long since consigned to the limbo of the past.
When the great discoveries of Professor Max Miiller and
his fellow-labourers in the field of Aryan comparative
philology and mythology had demonstrated the family
connection between the divinities of the Vedas and of
Olympos, the fresh truth was, in accordance with the ten-
dency of the himrian mind, pushed beyond its proper
limits. It became an axiom that an Aryan nation must
have Aryan divinities and none others^ in disregard of the
obvious and undeniable fact that commerce, conquest,
colonisation, and local proximity, as well as original unity
of nationality, all necessarily exercise a vast influence on
communities. Nations in history are not observed to
change their gods, by formally discarding the old, but
they constantly add strange divinities to their elastic
Pantheons. I am, however, quite willing to admit that,
in the abstract, the probability is that any divinity of an
Aryan nation is Aryan in origin ; any divinity of a Semitic
nation, Semitic ; and that consequently the onus probandi^
which I willingly accept, is on any one who asserts the
contrary. A few years ago when the above-mentioned



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THE SUBJECT AND ITS TREATMENT. 5

views respecting Aryan ^ divinities were even more pro-
nounced than at present, I endeavoured to test the general
correctness of the theory by its application to a particular
Hellenik god, Poseidon.^ Whatever the shortcomings of
this little monograph may have been, and it undoubtedly
took the side of the question then unpopular, I am pleased
to tind that the leading principles which it advocated are
not likely to be impeached by subsequent investigation,
and that a juster view on this important question has
recently gained ground.

The unity and uniformity of man, both in his physical
and in his mental aspect,^ and of the world in which he
is placed, suggests, and even necessitates, an intrinsic unity
of his ideas ; a circumstance which emboldens us to en-
quire into the beUef of far-off ages with a good hope, of
being able to unfold and to understand it. The principle
of comparison, so ably and successfully apphed in modern
times, reveals endless similarity and resemblance, a family
hkeness and a consequent common parentage, of all my*
thologico-religious conceptions. Man in all ages, pos-
sessing a consciousness and sensations equivalent to our
own, has been surrounded by the same external phe-
nomena. It is a great achievement to have discovered
the intrinsic unity of the rehgious ideas of the Aryan race,
or of any other particular family of mankind ; but it will
be a still greater accomplishment to reveal and to demon-
strate the grand unity into which the rehgious ideas of all
nations and tribes are necessarily resolvable. From the
unity of man and of the Kosmos, as well as otherwise,
thinkers of all creeds and in all ages have accepted the
idea of the xmity of the Supreme Being, deducing, as
S. Athanasios expresses it, ' the unity of the workman from
the unity of the work.' Atheism doubtless exists, and has

* Poseidon. By the writer. Lon- ' 'A double-faced unity.* Bain,
don: Longmans & Oo. 1872. Mind and Body, 160.



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6 THE GREAT DIONYSIAK MYTH;

existed, although its genuine disciples are few indeed ; but
its chief dogma will not bear any philosophical test, for if
it be an unwarrantable assumption to affirm that God is,
it is still more so to declare that He is not. The unity of
God, by whatever name He may have been known, or
however regarded, shines through the most complicated
religious systems, whether archaic or comparatively recent.
Much has been written about Semitic Monotheism, but
Aryan Monotheism is a fact equally obvious. Hu, II, El,
Allah, Amen, Yahveh, Iao,,Dyaus, Deus, Theus, Zeus,
^ Jehovah, Jove, or Lord,' are all in reality identical, and
names for the Monad and First Cause. This doctrine is
the central point and principal feature in the TimaioSj
* the greatest effort of the human mind to conceive the
world as a whole, which the genius of antiquity has be-
queathed to us,' ^ and in which, ideas Platonik and Pytha-
gorean meet not inharmoniously. The idea of a First
Cause, it is also to be noted, is an hypothesis necessarily
consequent upon the act of thinking.^

No religious-mythology, therefore, is utterly erroneous ;
and, again, there is in reahty but one religion, however at
different times and in various places obscured or debased.
Worship, or the expression of the reverent respect paid
by the human mind to a potency admittedly superior and
inteUigent, is necessarily either of the invisible, or of the
visible, or of both ; and the less the former is reverenced,
the more the latter will be. The Supreme is hidden from
the votary by the infinity of His being and the interven-
tion of His other creations ; secondary causes obscure the
primal, which remains shadowy and indefinable because
definition, having nothing tangible to grasp, subsides into
rhetorical expression, and idea is paralysed beneath illimi-
table capacities and apparent contradictions. The Visible,

' Jowett, The Dialogues of FlatOj ' Vide Herbert Spencer, First

iii. 608. PrincipUsy part i. chap. ii. 12.



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THE SUBJECT AND ITS TREATMENT, 7

then, considered Platonikally as a living animal containing
living animals, comes with overwhelming prominence
before the mind of the worshipper ; and naturally divides
itself into (1) the external wcarld and its phenomena, or
Nature ; (2) the mental capabihties of man as viewed in
their products, or Art ; and (3) the principle of renewal
and reproduction, or Phallicism. The cult of these, or
any of them, is idolatry, or the worship of the Visible,
which is thus (1) nature-worship ; (2) man-worship, or
primitive Euemerism ; and (3) anthropo-nature-worship.
Nature-worship is (1) celestial, or the cult of the heavenly
bodies, and of the air^ and aether ; and (2) telluric, or
the worship of the earth and the things connected with
it ; which are (a) terrestrial, or upon the earth, and (6)
chthonian, or under the eartL Man-worship is (1 ) that of
the individual or Euemerism proper,and (2) that of his pro-
ductions, either mental or physical, as distinct from himself,
which latter branch includes image-worship. Anthropo-
nature-worship is divided into (1) the cult of the male
principle, and (2) the cult of the female principle.* Any
branch of the worship of the Visible may be, and indeed
is, connected to a certain extent with the worship of the
Invisible ; and the cults of the various branches are gene-
rally unantagonistic as between themselves. Celestial
worship, again, is solar, lunar, planetary, astral, zodiacal,
and astrological, or combinations of these. The sun, as
the most remarkable of natural phenomena, is the pro-

1 * Neanthes of Oyricam writes thougli its rdle is much exaggerated,

that the Macedonian priests inyoke Ithas been illustrated by the writiDgs

Bedu, which they interpret to mean of R. P. Knight and his recent

the air, to be propitious to them and Editor. Inman, Davenport, West-

to their children.* (Clem. Alex, ropp, Wake, Kolle (Eacherche$ sur

Strom, T. 8.) le CuUe de Bacchus) ; Lajard (i^

' In ibid present work addressed cherches sur U CuUe de VSnusyy

to general readers, the Phallic ele- Dulaure {Histoire AbrSg^e des Dtf-

ment, though sufficiently indicated, fSrens CuUes)) and others. Vide

will be very lighUy touched upon, also Rev. G. W. Oox, Mythol, of the

It is undouDtefiy an important fea- Aryan NatioM, ii. 107, 130.
tore in ancient religious idea, al-



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8 THE GREAT DIONYSIAK MYTH.

tagonist of religious-mythology, and appears in three
principal connections as (1) light, (2) fire, and (3) the
generator or life-quickener of the face of the world. The
sunlight has two principal und closely connected aspects,
light (1) physical and (2) mental. Fire has also two
principal aspects, the flame (1) grateful and (2) terrible-
These materials, to which must be added the amount of
abstract truth possessed at any time by man, and his de-
viations from it, compose the sources whence all religious-
mythology is derived. Whilst, on the one hand, a similar
mind, an originally common stock of ideas, and the same
surrounding universe, necessitate the pristine unity of,
and produce the resemblances and parallels between, the
various branches of religious-mythology ; on the other,
variety of disposition, different degrees of knowledge and
intelligence, and dissimilar habitations and fortunes have
occasioned their varieties and contrasts.

The elements, which thus, in proportions varying in
different localities, unite to compose reUgious-mythology
being so numerous and diverse, the nature of their pro-
duction cannot but be correspondingly compoimd and
intricate. For this simple reason, systems which purport
to supply a key to all mythologies by the aid of a single
secondary principle, whether that happen to be the cult
of light and darkness, or of storm and wind, the worship
of ancestors or of animals, the cult of the dead and
deified great or Euemerism, phallicism, astrolatry, the
zodiacal cult, or any other, are necessarily essentially
incorrect in principle and correspondingly erroneous in
general theory of interpretation. That which is a perfect
explanation of one fact becomes idle when applied to
another. Thus the mode of treatment here pursued is
not based upon the exclusive apphcation of any particular
method of mythological investigation, nor again, has any
school been wholly rejected, as being altogether beside



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THE SUBJECT AND ITS TREATMENT, 9

the mark. As great writers have constantly given the
world much that was unworthy of them, so very inferior
scribes have occasionally left us things truly valuable.

To descend from general principles to the particular
subject, it is to be observed that in studying a single im-
portant divinity or mythic cycle we are, to a considerable
extent, studying Mythology as a whole. As the greater
includes the less, so the more comphcated mythic legend
or idea when understood renders the simpler almost im-
mediately transparent. The real history and nature of
the mysterious Dionysos have perplexed many investiga-
tors in different ages. Thus Diodoros Sikelos expended
great erudition upon the subject only to arrive at no
conclusion ; while Nonnos, who seems to have devoted the
chief part of his life to the study and harmonisation of
Dionysiak traditions almost innumerous, may well have
doubted whether he really understood anything of the
tnie meaning of the myth which he has succeeded in
compressing into an amorphous unity. Theories of lan-
guage utterly incorrect, a crude Euemerism, a wholesale
and unreflecting acceptance of the statements of ancient
authors without reference to their probable means of
knowledge or trustworthiness, and a desire to support
various preconceived opinions, chiefly religious, are rocks
upon which many adventurers in these waters in modern
times have been fatally shipwrecked. But if the failures
of others in any department of knowledge were to be
accepted as conclusive reasons for making no efforts our-
selves, progress would cease to be a reality. Nothing is
really useless, and we may learn much from previous
errors. I do not intend to write a mythic hfe of Dionysos
after the fashion of Nonnos, or as may be found shorn of
poetical form and adjuncts in a Classical Dictionary : be-
muse a large amount of such detail would be of com-
paratively late date and unimportant character, and would



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10 , THE GREAT DIONYSIAK MYTH.

in no way assist in enabling us to obtain a true concept
of the god and a knowledge of his more archaic his-
tory. The treatment of the subject here adopted is as
follows : —

1. The statements of early Hellenik writers from
Homeros to Herodotos concerning Dionysos are ex-
amined and analysed in four chapters, respectively de-
voted to

1. The Dionysos of the Theologers, a title bestowed
on Homeros, Hesiodos, and the imaginary Orpheus.^

2. The Lyric Dionysos, in which the representations
of the god by Solon, Alkaios, Theognis, Anakreon, Simo-
nides of Keos, Pratinas, Ion, Pindaros, and others, are
considered.

3. Dionysos as he appears in the

Tragic triad of immortal fames,
Aischulos, Sopbokles, Euripides.

4. Dionysos as he appears in the great work of
Herodotos. It is unnecessary to extend the analysis
after B.C. 400 ; the archaic idea of the god is, by that
time, fixed and determined, and Herodotos himself is
mainly valuable in this connection on account of his
travels in the Outer-world. The Dionysiak allusions of
later vmters down to Nonnos, a.d. 550, wiU be noticed
from time to time throughout the enquiry as may be
requisite. At the conclusion of each chapter the Eikon,
or personified idea of the god, to be found in the parti-
cular author or authors, will be given.

^ Of. Profe68or Max MuUer, Chips Introduction to a Scientific System of

from a German Workshop, ii. 127 ; Mythology, The OrpAica, 310 et

Rev. G. W. Oox, Mythol, of the seq. Some writers strangely con-

Aryan Nations, ii. 239 et seq. An- tinue to speak of Orpheus as a

stoteles in a lost work declared that veritable Hellenik sage, who travelled

* there never was such a person as in Egypt. India, &c. Platon calls

Opheiis the poet.' Oic. De Nat, him and Mousaios, Children of the

Deor, i. 3d ; vide also K. O. Muller, Moon and the Muses. {Rep, ii.)



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THE SUBJECT AND ITS TREATMENT. 11

n. Turning from individual authorities to the course
of daily Hellenik life, I shall next consider the god as he
appears in the general Dionysiak cult of Hellas, at the
festivals in couDection with the divinities of Eleusis, and
lastly in connection with the Drama. .

ILL Dionysos will next be noticed with reference to
Art, as he appears in statuary, and on vase, coin, and
gem.

IV. TTi« principal epithets, about 150 in number, and
the chief accompaniments of his cult, Bakchic words and
things, will then be given alphabetically ; and lastly, his
seven protagonistic phases will be examined. At this
point in the investigation, we shall be able to determine
the Eikon of the Hellenik Dionysos, considered as an
entirety.

V. Eegarding the god as a divinity non-Hellenik in
origin, I shall subsequently discuss the obscure question
of the introduction of his cult into Hellas ; shall notice
his position in the Phoenician Outer- world ; and finally,
trace his worship to its origin in the earUest home of
dviUsation and religious-mythology. In an undertaking
of such difficulty and intricacy, some minor matters may
escape the most searching attention, but the plan of
enquiry proposed probably omits no point of much
importance.

As r^ards names, following the example of autho-
rities of the greatest weight, I adopt forms approaching
as nearly as possible to those originally employed. Thus,
as the Hellenes did not call themselves Greeks, I have
not so styled them.^ The baneful practice of bestowing
on Hellenik divinities the names of Latin divinities,
which latter generally do not even represent the same
personages under other appellations, is fortunately

* 'The name of Greeks is too but it is not a correct name,' (Glads.
hvolj established to be changed [P] ; Juv. Mun, 31.)



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12 THE GREAT DIONYSIAK MYTH.

rapidly becoming obsolete. But, as it is generally ad-
mitted that to call Athene Minerva, is erroneous ; so,
similarly, it must be conceded that the divinities of
Kaldea, Phoenicia, or Egypt, should not be obscured
under the names of Hellenik gods supposed to be their
equivalents ; or even under Hellenik forms of their own
original appellations. Osiris and Isis are household ^words
in mythology, but they must be made to give way to the
more correct forms Uasar and Uasi. The same rule is
applied to other names, and as these, when Hellenik are
now generally and properly written in an Hellenik, instead
of in a Latin form, so, in turn, Xerxes must yield to its
original Khshayarsha, and Nebuchadnezzar reappear as
Nabu-kudur-uzur. Tliis, at first, may seem somewhat
strange alike to ear and eye, but time will soon fami-
liarise us with the change, which, being correct in prin-
ciple, will gradually prevail. Its early supporters must
expect to have the groundless charge of pedantry and
affectation brought against them — a hardship which,
however, they will probably be able to endure.

In the present age, so distinguished for mental activity
in connection with religion, the importance of early
religious-mythology and archaic belief is being rapidly
recognised. Works long and learned have recently
appeared, in which attempts have been made to resolve
all religious systems into phallicism, ancestor-worship, or
sun-worship in connection with the signs of the zodiac.
These are dreams, as baseless as the long-exploded efforts
of those investigators who regarded all mythology as
merely an echo of the Noachian deluge. But both those
who accept any particidar creed, and those who do not,
may alike find ample food for reflection in studying the
human mind in past ages. The enquiry may be found
to give some assistance on the important discussions re-
specting the foundations of belief, basis of a creed, super-



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THE SUBJECT AND ITS TREATMENT. 13

natural religion, government of the world, and the like,
which are at present so widely agitated amongst the
thoughtful. There are certain questions of primary im-
portance which will constantly recur throughout all time,
although various ages impress their special characteristics
upon particular aspects of them ; such are enquiries
respecting the nature of God and the world, time and
space, good and evil, the relations between God and man,
and the destiny of the latter. At present, the champions
of orthodoxy and the contrary (I use these terms as best
fitted to express my meaning, although in themselves far
from unobjectionable), confront each other like Hector
and Aias fairly matched, and it is impossible for an un-
enhghtened spectator to decide which will ultimately
prevail. There is, however, widely prevalent, a sort of
spurious unorthodoxy which thinks it fashionable to pro-
fess to be a thinker, as the term is ; to doubt this and
deny that, and yet which at the end is sure to be found
voting tamely with the orthodox majority, simply because
they at present compose the larger crowd; a state of
mind which dreads above all things expulsion from the
social synagogue. Whilst every sympathy should be
extended to honest doubt or disbelief, and its fearless ex-
pression in becoming language merits respectful attention,
all earnest advocates of either side should unite in expos-
ing the hypocritical rchgionist and the hypocritical unbe-
Uever. Again, a narrow-minded and ignorant orthodoxy
clinging to erroneous and obsolete interpretation and
untrustworthy tradition, constantly makes itself ridiculous
by crying out when in no way really injured. All truth,
religious and scientific, must be harmonious ; no truly
honest mind will shrink from any amount of test or
investigation being applied to its beliefs. An age or an
individual may have a faulty concept of astronomy or of
Christianity, yet these may in reality be perfect, for man's



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14 THE GREAT DIONYSIAK MYTH.

errors affect himself, not the truth at which he mms. A
calm investigation of facts is almost always distasteful to
an ardent partisan, but will commend itself to the judg-
ment of that large moderate majority whose consistently-
steady action preserves the balance of things.



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15



CHAPTEK n.
THE DIONTSOS OF THE THE0L00EB8.



SECTION L

THE HOMERIK DIONTSOS.

Subaection L — The Episode of Lykourgos,

The first direct, and indeed the most important, notice of
Dionysos in the Homeiik Poems ^ occurs in the speech of
Diomedes to Glaukos.^ 'Who art thou?' enquires the
former, and continues : —

But if really one of the Immortals thou hast come from heaven
I would not fight with the heavenly gods.
For neither did even the son of Dryas, strong Lykourgos
Live long, who truly strove with the heavenly gods,
He who once the attendants of Raving Dionysos
Pursued down the most-holy Nyseian [Mount]. But they to-
gether all
Their sacred-implements cast on the ground, by man-slaying

Lykourgos
Smitten with an ox-goad. But Dionysos being-terrified
Sunk under the wave of the sea, and Thetis received him to her

bosom
Frightened ; for strong trembling seized him at-the-angry-tone
of the man.

' Thebelief that an actual historic Thirlwall; Grote^ Mure, Gladstone,

bdividualy Homeros, composed the F. A. Palej, Oox, Kochlvy and others,

two great epic poems which have I respectfullj concur. The question,

come down to us, is now a^in de- however, does not directly concern



Online LibraryRobert BrownThe great Dionysiak myth → online text (page 2 of 38)