Robert Brown.

The great Dionysiak myth online

. (page 21 of 38)
Online LibraryRobert BrownThe great Dionysiak myth → online text (page 21 of 38)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


very respectable persons who knew it of their own know-
ledge (for xmfortunately he was unable to be present
personally on the occasion), and we may well believe it,
but the s3rmbolism is exceedingly interesting. Elis, where
Dionysos was especially revered, was, as noticed,* the
locality where he was invoked as the Axiotauros or
Worthy Bull, the Axiokersos or Worthy-hojued-god of
Samothrake. The Kabeiroi or Great Ones of Samothrake
were three in number,* and if the Worthy-horned-god had
an empty bowl left in his shrine, it is only natural to
suppose that his female 'reflection,' as the Assyrian
Inscriptions would have called her, namely, Axiokerse the
Worthy-homed-goddess, was honoured with another, and
Axieros the Worthy-lord, with the third.^ Axiokerse we
have just seen at Brauron as Artemis Taurike the Gtod-
dess-of-the-buU, for this epithet has in reality no con-
nection with the Taurik Chersonesos ;^ and we find her
in Sparta as Orthia the Phallic, to whom men were
sacrificed, imtil Lykourgos introduced instead the custom
of scouring, which was carried out with great severity .^
The wine vessels in the Elean temple correspond in the

> Myihd, cfthe Aryan Nations, i. « Aglaoph, 1231.

103. *Vide»n/X.L

» Paug. vi. 26. « Vide M. IX. iU.

» Sup. IV. iil 2. ^ Cf. Paus, iii. 16.



Digitized by VjOOQ IC



246 THE GREAT DIONYSIAK MYTH.

mystic symbolism with the missing god ; but at length,
imseen and unnoticed, he returns to earth ; nature arises
from the death of winter, and blooms again with ever-
fresh luxuriance, and the vessels in the temple, itself an
image of the kosmic house of the universe, become filled
with wine or the life-blood of the world.

Orchomenos, where the Agrionia was celebrated, is the
scene of the mythic childhood of Dionysos when brought
up by Athamas and Ino,^ and fortunately we are able, by
the aid of the light thrown by the present upon the
imderlying significance of Hellenik mythology, to ob8«:ve
the earlier stages of the Dionysiak ritual, if not its actual
introduction there. The mythic Athamas, a son of
Aiolos, ruled Orchomenos, and a portion of the Atha-
mantik legend is thus related by Herodotos: — On the
arrival of Khshayarsha ^ ' at Alus in Achaea, his guides,
told him the tale known to the dwellers in these parts
concerning the temple of the Laphystian Jupiter,^ how
that Athamas the son of Aeolus took counsel with Ino
and plotted the death of Phrixus; and how that after-
wards the Achaeans, warned by an oracle, laid a forfeit
upon his posterity, forbidding the eldest of the race ever
to enter into the court-house. K one comes within the
doors, he can never go out again, except to be sacrificed.
Further, they told him, how that many persons, when on
the point of being slain, are seized with such fear that
they flee away and take refuge in some other country;
and that these, if they come back long afterwards, and
are found to be the persons who entered the court-house,
are led forth, covered with chaplets, and in a grand pro-
cession, and are sacrificed.' * The children of the race of
Athamas, or a portion of them, were thus devoted to Zeus
the Glutton, so called on account of the human sacrifices

* Apollod. liL 4. ' Zeus Laphyslios, or the Glutton.

' Xerxes. < Herod. viL 197.



Digitized by VjOOQ IC



THE HELLENIK CULT OF DIONYSOS. 247

offered to him ; ^ and this Being, who as a matter of
course has no connection with Zeus the great Aryan All-
father,^ like Kronos or Satumus, in accordance with the
Molekh-ritual, devours his own offspring.

Let us next consider the place of Athamas in mythic
genealc^, and here, as the Aryan element is largely
represented in the story, the Natiu^l Phenomena Theory,
In the able hands of Mr. Cox, affords great assistance.
Athamas, a son of Aiolos and king of Orchomenos, at the
command of Here, marries Nephele, and from this union
spring two children, Phrixos and Helle ; but he also loves
Ino daughter of Kadmos, who becomes the mother of
Learchos and Melikertes. The injured Nephele leaves
the faithless king, and the angry Here strikes him with
madness, in which state he slays Learchos, while Phrixos
and Helle, who were to have been sacrificed through the in*
trigues of Ino, escape through the air upon a golden-fleeced
ram, the gift of Hermes. Ino with her remaining child
leaps into the sea, where their names and natures ' suffer
a sea change,' Ino becoming Leukothee and Melikertes
Palaimon. The deserted Athamas, driven from his Jiome,
is told that he must wander until he reaches some place
where wild beasts receive him hospitably. At length at
Alos he finds a place where wolves, lykoi^ having slain d
sheep, leave the flesh for him, and there he rests and
founds a new dwelling-place. Perhaps in no legend in
which the Semitic and Aryan elements are intermingled
can they be more clearly distinguished, and their respec-
tive underlying significance more plainly revealed; and
as every part of the myth is full of interest both in a
general and also in a Dionysiak point of view, I shall
examine it in detail. First, let us take the Aryan portion
of the tale, which the Natural Phenomena Theory makes

* Of. Miiller, Eumen, Iv. tios is alluded to as an obscure and

' Cf. Pans. L 24 ; where Laphys- foreign divinity.



Digitized by VjOOQ IC



248 THE GREAT DIONYSIAK MYTH.

perfectly lucid. Athamas, at the command of Here the
Gleaming Heaven,^ a peculiarly national divinity,* and
hence opposed to strangers and strange gods, marries
Nephele the Cloud ; and becomes the father of Phrixos,
the Unsunlit-ether, and Helle, the air or ether when
lighted up by Helios the Sun. But the Phoenician Ino,
daughter of Kadmos the Oriental, and whom Athamas
prefers to his Aryan consort Nephele, is hostile to the
children of her rival ; and they are rescued from her
devices through the instrumentality of Hermes the lord
of cloud and breeze,' who sends the golden-fleeced ram or
shaggy sunht cloud, upon whose back they flee away ;
until the wearied Helle, deprived of her sun-strength, fells
exhausted at sunset into the Hellespontos, while the
colder and more vigorous Phrixos escapes to the fer dwel-
ling of the Kolchian king. Driven mad by the angry
Here, the raging Athamas, like Herakles Mainomenos,
slays his eldest Kadmeian child Learchos,* for whose
name no Aryan derivation is suggested, and Ino, to escape
him, leaps into the sea with her remaining infent Meli-
kertes. Who then is Athamas, and what does he repre-
sent? Evidently the Sun. As Mr. Cox observes, he is
* a being on whose nature some light is thrown by the
fact that he is the brother of Sisyphos, the sun con-
demned, like Ixion, to an endless and fruitless toil/ He
slays Learchos; and this action which, in the Semitic
phase, implies amongst other things that human sacrifices^
were offered to him as to Zeus the Glutton,^ according to

* Of. Preller, Griechische Mytho- would exactly suit this connection.
logie, i. 124 ; Cox, Mythd, of the ^ ' There was an ancient worship
Aryan NatumSj ii. 10. of Zeus in the land of the Minyans,

' Juventus Mtmdi, 234 et sea, which reqiiired human sacrifices, and

' Of. Horn. Hymn^ EU JUerm. ; that, too, from none other than Uie

Buskin, Queen of the Air, i. 25-9 ; sacerdotal race of Athamas ....

Mythol, of the Aryan NationSf ii, 224 the tohole mythus sprtmy from the

et eeq. toorship, and not the worship from

* Le-eivchoe may possibly be only a the mythus' (K. O. Miiller, Intro-
varientof I-ak-cho8. His Ming shun, ductioti to a Scientific System of
and his general place in the story, Mythology, 175).



Digitized by VjOOQ IC



THE HELLENIK CULT OF DIONYSOS. 249

the innocent Aryan symbolism, only signifies drought and
the burning up by the scorching summer sun of his
children the fruits of the earth, whom his genial beams
have produced. The name Athamas, Hke Learchos or
Melikertes, is not susceptible of an Hellenik explanation ;
and who then is this Athamas, * in Ionic Tammas,' ^ who
scorches the earth and slays his children? Who but
Tammuz, whose name has been explained as signifying
the * Strong one,' or the * Consumer- who-makes-perfect,*
i.e. by fiery purgation, but who is the Kaldean * Tamzi,
the Sun-of-life,' * ' the glowing and triumphant sun,' whose
title is connected with the fierce summer heats of June and
July ?* And Tammuz, Kke Dionysos with whom he is iden-
tical, for, as we have seen, Tammuz, Adonis, lao, Sabazios,
and Dionysos, are all one, is hated by the Aryan Here,*
and, like Dionysos, is a wanderer. In this point, as in
almost every circumstance in the myth, the distinct
and double symbolism, Aryan and Semitic, is clearly
visible. In his Aryan aspect, the Sun wanders across
heaven; in his Semitic, also ov^ earth as the fierce
Molekh-cult is carried along the shores of the Midland
Sea. But the exiled Athamas or Tammuz is here wander-
ing in an Aryan region, and so Aryan mythology enwraps
him in its misty mantle. Wolves welcome him, but
wolves, Lukot^Bie other than they seem; like the Arktoi,
or Bears of the Brauronia, they are but Kght-children
sprung from Leukos the Brilliant, and so welcome the
resplendent Athamas.* At last the fugitive settles at

> K 0. MiiDer, Orchomenos und * As to the mvthic confusion be-

dis Mmyer, 156. tween leukosy brilliant, and lvko$f a

* Vide tn/ XI. iv. wolf, vide Mythd. of the Aryan No-
»0f. Donaldson, Theatre of the tionSj ii. 232-3; cf. Ais. Hept epi

Greeks, 18; Norris, Amyrian Diet, 7%«., 145; where the Chorus, playing

50. The Jewish month Tammuz is on the words, pray that Apollon

derived from the Assyrian month Lykeios the Light-king, may be

Duzu. As to Tammuz, vide also mf, fierce as a wolf to the enemy. Ao

XII. i. 1. cording to the mystic principle of

* Cf. 9up, IV. iiL 4. using a word of numifold meaning, or



Digitized by VjOOQ IC



250 THE GREAT DIONYSTAK MYTH.

Alos, the Place of Wandering, like. Bellerophon in the
Aleian Field ; ^ but it is observable that in the neighbour-
hood of the historic Alos stood another Thebai, an im-
portant town in that district of Thessalia which in the
time of Herodotos was still known as Achaia, So closely
is the Euemeristic undercurrent of history connected with
the aerial aspect of the myth.

Athamas, again, is a son of Aiolos, and Mr. Glad-
stone, who has investigated the position of the mythic
Aiolosand his descendants with that searching analysis and
rare mastery of multitudinous detail which is so marked
a feature of his genius, observes that ' everything com-
bines to raise the presumption thus obtained, about the
Phoenicianism of the Aiohds, to the rank of a rational
conclusion ; ' and adds, that * the historical question, which
under the legendary veil invites investigation, is one of
extreme interest : it is the question of the amount, the
nature, and the channels of the earliest powerful Semitic
influence upon an Aryan or Japhetic people.*^ Mr:
Gladstone does not refer to Athamas, doubtless because
the latter is not mentioned in the Homerik Poems, and so
would be beyond the immediate scope of his subject ; but
our conclusions respecting the Orchomenian king will
tend in some degree to confirm the theory of the Phoe-
nician connection of the Aiolids. Tammuz is, and must
have been, a Phoenician; although even in Phoenicia he
is not an autochthon, but an immigrant from KaJdea.

Lastly, we have the escape of Ino and her child Meli-
kertes, and the change in their nature. The latter is

two or more words of .the same or with rays, which plainly proyes that

of similar somid, the Wolf becomes he is there meant as a symbol of the

a symbol of the Light-king, as at sun' (R. P« Knight, Warship of

Lykopolis in Kam, where Athamas Priapm, 81.)

the Austere, or Burning Sun (cf. ^ As to the myth of Bellerophon,

S, LukejTxhx. 21) was represented as vide Professor Max ^liiller, u^,

a wolf (Macrob. i. 17) ; * and on the ii. Essay xix.

medals of Cartha he is surrounded ' Vide Jut^en^uv Mundi, cap. ▼,



Digitized by VjOOQ IC



THE HELLENIK OULT OF DIONYSOS. 251

universally admitted to Have been a Semitic importation,
he being the Phoenician Melqarth, the Melek-kartha or
Astyanax, king of the enclosed space or city, the
* rex urbis,'^ the divinity frequently alluded to as the
Tjrrian Herakles. But Melek is merely Molekh or Molokh
the King,^ so here we at once meet with this sanguinary
Phoenician divinity on Boiotik ground, in the same way
that we find Poseidon, Tammuz, and Onka,. denizens of
the Kadmeis. This point is fiiUy admitted by Aryan
advocates such as Mr. Cox, and as confessions from him
in the matter are peculiarly valuable, I would call parti-
cular attention both to the admission itself and also to
what it fairly involves. Thus, after alluding to the word
Kadmos and its connection with the Semitic Kedem the
East, he observes : * This word, together with the occur-
rence of Banna as the Boiotian word for daughter, seem to
satisfy Mebuhr as to the fact of this Phoenician settle-
ment. We must add to the list of such words the epithet
of Palaimon, Mehkertes, the Syrian Melkarth or Moloch.' ^
Again, he notices that the few stories related of Palaunon
or the Wrestler,* which was the name given to Melikertes
when Ino received that of Leukothee, * have no import-
ance, but his name is more significant. It is clearly that
of the Semitic Melkarth, and thus the sacrifices of children
in his honour, and the horrid nature of his cultus gene-
rally, are at once explained. It becomes, therefore, the
more probable that Kadmos is but a Greek form of the
Semitic Kedem, the East ; and thus the Boiotian mytho-
logy presents us with at least two imdoubted Phoenician

' G^esenius, Script, Ling, Phoen. the ehoree of the Mediterranean.

410;cf.Kartha-hadthaorKarchedon- *0f. Melchisedek, Melchior, A-

Carthago, the *New Town;' the drammelekh, Anammelekh, Abdal-

numerous Kirjaths of Syria ; Kar- malek, Malchos, &c.

thaia, a town of Keos; Karthada, * Mythd, of the Aryan NattonSyU,

the ancient name of a suburb of 86y note ; cf. ibid, i. 401.

Pidermo ; Karteia (Tartessoe), and * Vide inf. X. ii.
numbers of other similar names on



Digitized by VjOOQ IC



252 THE GREAT DIONYSIAK MYTH.

or Semitic names, whatever be the conclusion to which they
point.* ^ The judicious reader will not, I think, doubt
much what is the conclusion to which they point. The
particular question with which we commenced was the
consideration of the Boiotik and Dionysiak Festival of the
Agrionia, and at every step of the way we find the
country teeming with the Semitic associations and recol-
lections of that wonderful people, so ill-succeeded by the
dull Boiotian of historic times. Every spade of earth we
turn over in the ICadmeis seems partly formed from the
dust of some Phoeniko-Hellenik hero who had played
his part on that great battle-stage which extends from
Thermopylai to Kithairon, and which the ancients called
the Orchestra of Ares, when Plateia and Chaironeia were
yet ages in the future. ' In the island of Tenedos it b
said that children were sacrificed to Palaemon,^ and the
whole worship seems to have had something gloomy
about it.** It had indeed. Tenedos, as noticed,* was
one of the localities where human sacrifices were ofiered
to Dionysos Omadios: for as Dionysos is Athamas, so
is he Melikertes, the King of Phoenician cities. At
Korinthos was a remarkable temple of Palaimon-Meli-
kertes, which was near a sacred place with a subter-
ranean entrance where he was said to be concealed,* like
the Monster in the Kretan Labyrinth ; * and his statue
represented him sitting on a dolphin,^ a circumstance
which illustrates his solar aspect and foreign origin, and
connects him with ApoUon-Delphinios, the Fish-Sim.*
According to one legend, Palaimon was carried on a
dolphin from the rock Molyris, from which his mother

^ Mythol, of the Aryan Natiom, ii. ^ Paus. ii. 2 ; Leake, TraveU m the

265. Morea, iii. 291.

» Of. K. 0. Miiller, Orchammoe. • Vide tn/. K. iii.

170. ' Pans. 11. 8.

> Smith, Claencal Diet, Palaemm, ^ Of. Mtfl^hci, of the Aryan Natiom,

* Sup, IV. iii. 2. ii 26; Queen of the Air, i. 39.



Digitized by VjOOQ IC



THE HELLENIK CULT OF DIONYSOS. 253

threw herself into the sea, to the harbour of Ko-
rinthos.^

Of this group of mysterious personages there remains
Ino, the daughter of Kadmos, the beloved of Athamas,
the mother of Melikertes, and whose name was changed
to that of Leukothee, the White-goddess. Of her and
her son it may said nothing of them ^ doth £Eule, but doth
suffer a sea change into something rich and strange ; '
for their natures seem, in the legends, to be improved by
the transformation. The appearance of the same per-
sonages in different aspects and relationships to each other,
is almost a necessity of thoiight ; sim, moon, stars, day,
night, life, death, good, evil, light, darkness, dawn, stand,
when anthropomorphically considered, in almost every
possible relationship and connection with each other*
So Donaldson observes, * As Semele represents the earth,
Dionysos appears not only as her son, but also as her
husband ; ' and he well adds, * these oscillations in the
persons of the sacred allegory need not create any diffi-
culty, for the free play of fancy has combined and re-com-
bined the elements of the picture, like the chan^ng
figures of a kaleidoscope.'* Thus, as Dionysos is the
husband and son of Semele, so, here, as Athamas and
Melikertes, he is the husband and son of another of the
Eadmeian sisters. Who or what then is Ino ? The Neo-
Flatonists had some glimpses of the kosmogonical char-
acter of the family of Kadmos, and their utterances on
the point, if incorrect, are at least intelligible. Thus,
according to Olympiodoros, the four daughters of Eadmos
represented the four (so-called) elements. 'They con-
sider the four elements of a Dionysiacal nature : Semele
is fire ; Agaue the earth, which tears to pieces her own
offspring ; Ino is water, being marine ; and Autonoe is the

» Paus. i. 44. ' Theatre of the Greeki, 20.



Digitized by VjOOQ IC



254 THE GREAT DIONTSIAK MYTH.

air/ ^ These statements, like nineteen-twentieths of Neo-
Platonik theories, are perfectly arbitrary and groundless,
but yet in this particular case show some feint apprecia-
tion of the depth of the myth. It will be at once
admitted that Ino in the story represents some natural
phenomenon or influence ; and becuing this in mind, we
find from Pausanias that on the western coast of Lake-
nike, at no great distance from the Phoenician settlement
in Kythera,^ was * a temple and oracle of Ino. They
prophesy when asleep, since the goddess answers those
who consult her by dreams. Bronze statues stand in the
uncovered part of the temple, one of Paphie and the other
of Helios. Water, too, pleasant to drink, flows from a
sacred fount, and they call it the Fount of the Moon.*
Paphie is not a divinity of the country.' * Here we have
a Semitic temple dedicated to the Sun, Moon, and Paphie,
who, as Pausanias truly observes, is not a native divinity,
but Kyprogenes, the Kypros-bom; and as Aphrodite
Anadyomene, Venus Eising-from-the-sea,^ has landed, like
Dionysos, a stranger in Aryan regions.^ Ino, the dream-
giving goddess, stands in this temple, as in the myth we
have been consid^ng, by the side of Helios-AUiamas.
The Moon as the queen of night, and especially in her
phase as Hekate-Selene, presides over dreams ; and the ill
eflects of evil dreams were not imnaturally supposed to
be dispelled by the sxm. Thus Klytemnestra is repre-
sented as relating her terrible dream to Helios, in his
character of Apotropaios, the Averter-of-evil ; ^ and it is
noticeable that the Homerik * people of dreams ' live near

^ MS. Oommentary on the Phm" * As to the Semitic character of

don. Aphrodite, who is pressed into the

* Of. Pans. i. 14. service of the Natural Phenomena
' Cf. Account of the Lake of Ino^ Theory as one of its innumerous

Paus. iii. 23. Dawn-goddesses, vide Juventm Muft-

* Paus. iii. 26. di, 311-17.

* Of. PauB. u. 1. 7 Soph. Elekt. 424.



Digitized by VjOOQ IC



THE HELLENIK CULT OF DIONYSOS. 255

the flowings of Ocean and the Leukadian, or White Rock/
which may have some connection with Leukothee, the
White-goddess. The sacred fount still connects Ino,
who as the moon rules the sea, with water and she takes
refuge with her horrid child in the deep, in the same way
as Dionysos when flying from the wrath of Lykourgos ;
for all these Semitic divinities, Dionysos, Poseidon, Aphro-
dite, Hephaistos, and the rest, are connected with water,
as having come across it to Hellas from the East. So,
similarly, Europe, the ' broad-faced moon,' * and sister of
Xadmos, and who is another phase of Ino, is borne over
the sea on the back of the mystic bull. Again, Ino, as
the moon and moon influence, is naturally hostile to Helle
the bright nymph whose life is only sustained by the light
of Helios. Thus the Natural Phenomena Theory, though
to a far less extent, enters into and illustrates Semitic My-
liiol(^ as well as Aryan ; but here it is generally mixed
with a subtle and delicate underlying Euemerism, which
speaks of the clash of creeds and the contests of the
human race, as well a;^ of the movements and character-
istics of the ever-varying phenomena of nature. Again,
Ino with the infant Melikertes is a representative of the
Mother and Child ; but this is too wide a field of mytho-
Ic^ to enter on here, suffice it to remark, that the Moon-
queen of night is the mother of the young sun of the
coming day, and was represented in this character as a
crescent forming part of a circle. Creuzer, who has
noticed the phase of Ino as a fostering mother, for in illus-
tration of this and of the identity of Melikertes and
Dionysos, it was Ino who in the mythic l^end nurtured
the latter when an infant after his mother's death,^ com-
pares her with Juno, Juno Matuta, the matronly dawn-
goddess, and remarks that she is the mother of the

> Od. xxiv. 11. » Theatre of the Oreeh, 16.

• ApoUod. iii. 4 ; »»p. III. i. 1,



Digitized by VjOOQ IC



266 THE GREAT DIONYSIAK MYTH.

morning ligbt.^ In this case the name Ino will be Aryan,
as Juno midoubtedly is, and appears to be connected
with Zeus and many other familiar appellations.^ Ino has
been hastily identified with lo,* but this, though temptmg,
as their lunar characters are so harmonious, is doubtless
incorrect. Creuzer well observes that most of the ideas
connected with these lunar divinities spring from * the
Phoenician colony in Boiotia.' *

One last glimpse of Ino shall pourtray her in her most
favourable phase.^ We have seen how she becomes
Leukothee the White-goddess, as the Semitic moon is
Lebanah the Pale-shiner, as distinguished from the burn-
ing golden Tammuz. Whilst the tempest-tossed, much-
enduring, Odysseus is driven wearily on his raft through
the raging seas, the gentle Ino, once mortal but now a
partaker of the honour of the gods, beholds and pities
him. He had recently seen in the fer distance the
shadowy mountains of the happy Phaiakian land, rising
Uke a shi^d from the dark sea. But Poseidon, on his
return from Aithiopia, spies the injurer of his savage son
the Kyklops, and with his trident stirs up the latent fury
of the waves, covers earth and heaven with gloomy
clouds, and lets loose the winds. Then, as the Poet par-
ticularly notices, * Night started from heaven,' i.e. she
sprang from the vast black mass of clouds above, that
rained down darkness * on the deep. The distant moun-
tains disappear in the vortex of gloom, the raft is carried
hither and thither, and Odysseus is hurled from it into
the sea : painfully he rises and clings to it again, but, as
in the storm in Adria, hope has fled ; all the bright lights
of heaven are darkened over him, no star is visible; when

* Symbolikund Mythologies X. 686; iions, L 354.
cf. ibid, iy. 250; viL 494; Oen. ' Olem. Alex. Strom, t. 21, and

xxxiii. 14. * The precious thiiigs put many moderns,
forth by the moon.' * St/mb, iv. 286.

> CL MytM. of the Aryan Na^ » Od. v. 333-53.



Digitized by VjOOQ IC



THE HELLENIK CULT OF DIONYSOS. 257

suddenly the silver arrow of Artemis pierces the gloom,
' fix)m one lonely cloud the Moon rains out her beams,
and heaven is overflowed.' . * The White-goddess, daughter
of Kadmos, Ino, with-beautiful-ankle,^ saw him.' As the
rising moon * she came up from the deep,* according to
mythic tradition near the coast of Messenia,^ ^ and sat on
the raft,' i.e. illumined it with her rays.* Her appearing



Online LibraryRobert BrownThe great Dionysiak myth → online text (page 21 of 38)