eklogai

polytheist extractions

Tag Archives: mainades

Richard of St.-Victor, Sermones centum 177.1036

“What wickedness takes place during this feast; fortune-tellings, divinations, deceptions and feigned madnesses. On this day, having been seized up by the furies of their bacchant-like ravings and having been inflamed by the fires of diabolical instigation, they flock together to the church and profane the house of god with vain and foolish rhythmic poetry in which sin is not wanting but by all means present, and with evil sayings, laughing and cacophony they disrupt the priest and the whole congregation applauds for the people love these things.” – Richard of St.-Victor, Sermones centum 177.1036

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The Martyrdom of Saint Theodotus 14

“It was the custom among them yearly to bathe the images of the gods in the nearby lake, and on that day was the chance for them to be cleansed along with their idols. Each of the idols was set up on a wagon, and they were led through the city and into the countryside where the lake was. The whole populace of the city went out with them to see the sight, for the sound of the pipes and cymbals attracted attention, as did the dancing women with hair let loose like maenads, and there was a great pounding of their feet striking the ground and lots of musical instruments accompanying them.” – The Martyrdom of Saint Theodotus 14

Herodotos, The Histories 4.79

“Skyles conceived a desire to be initiated into the rites of Dionysos Bakcheios; and when he was about to begin the sacred mysteries, he saw the greatest vision. He had in the city of the Borysthenites a spacious house, grand and costly (the same house I just mentioned), all surrounded by sphinxes and griffins worked in white marble; this house was struck by a thunderbolt. And though the house burnt to the ground, Skyles none the less performed the rite to the end. Now the Skythians reproach the Greeks for this Bacchic revelling, saying that it is not reasonable to set up a god who leads men to madness. So when Skyles had been initiated into the Bacchic rite, some one of the Borysthenites scoffed at the Skythians: ‘You laugh at us, Skythians, because we play the Bacchant and the god possesses us; but now this deity has possessed your own king, so that he plays the Bacchant and is maddened by the god. If you will not believe me, follow me now and I will show him to you.’ The leading men among the Skythians followed him, and the Borysthenite brought them up secretly onto a tower; from which, when Skyles passed by with his company of worshippers, they saw him playing the Bacchant; thinking it a great misfortune, they left the city and told the whole army what they had seen. After this Skyles rode off to his own place; but the Skythians rebelled against him and slew him.” – Herodotos, The Histories 4.79

Plutarch, On Isis and Osiris 364e-365e

“That Osiris is identical with Dionysos who could more fittingly know than yourself, Klea? For you are at the head of the inspired maidens of Delphi, and have been consecrated by your father and mother in the holy rites of Osiris. If, however, for the benefit of others it is needful to adduce proofs of this identity, let us leave undisturbed what may not be told, but the public ceremonies which the priests perform in the burial of the Apis, when they convey his body on an improvised bier, do not in any way come short of a Bacchic procession; for they fasten skins of fawns about themselves, and carry Bacchic wands and indulge in shoutings and movements exactly as do those who are under the spell of the Dionysiac ecstasies. For the same reason many of the Greeks make statues of Dionysos in the form of a bull; and the women of Elis invoke him, praying that the god may come with the hoof of a bull; and the epithet applied to Dionysos among the Argives is ‘Son of the Bull.’ They call him up out of the water by the sound of trumpets, at the same time casting into the depths a lamb as an offering to the Keeper of the Gate. The trumpets they conceal in Bacchic wands, as Socrates has stated in his treatise On The Holy Ones. Furthermore, the tales regarding the Titans and the rites celebrated by night agree with the accounts of the dismemberment of Osiris and his revivification and regenesis. Similar agreement is found too in the tales about their sepulchres. The Egyptians, as has already been stated, point out tombs of Osiris in many places, and the people of Delphi believe that the remains of Dionysos rest with them close beside the oracle; and the Holy Ones offer a secret sacrifice in the shrine of Apollo whenever the devotees of Dionysos wake the God of the Mystic Basket. To show that the Greeks regard Dionysos as the lord and master not only of wine, but of the nature of every sort of moisture, it is enough that Pindar be our witness, when he says ‘May gladsome Dionysos swell the fruit upon the trees, the hallowed splendour of harvest time.’ For this reason all who reverence Osiris are prohibited from destroying a cultivated tree or blocking up a spring of water.” – Plutarch, On Isis and Osiris 364e-365e

Strabo, Geography 4.4.6

“In the ocean, Poseidonios says, there is a small island, not very far out to sea, situated off the outlet of the River Leigeros in Gaul; and the island is inhabited by the women of the Samnitai, and they are possessed by Dionysos and make this god propitious by appeasing him with mystic initiations as well as other sacred performances; and no man sets foot on the island, although the women themselves, sailing from it, have intercourse with the men and then return again. And, he says, it is a custom of theirs once a year to unroof the temple and roof it again on the same day before sunset, each woman brining her load to add to the roof; but the woman whose load falls out of her arms is rent to pieces by the rest, and they carry the pieces round the temple with the cry of ‘Euah’, and do not cease until their frenzy ceases; and it is always the case, he says, that some one jostles the woman who is to suffer this fate.” – Strabo, Geography 4.4.6

Pausanias, Description of Greece 10.4.3

“Homer speaks of the beautiful dancing-floors of Panopeus, I could not understand until I was taught by the women whom the Athenians call Thyiades. The Thyiades are Attic women, who with the Delphian women go to Parnassos every other year and celebrate orgies in honor of Dionysos. It is the custom for these Thyiades to hold dances at places, including Panopeus, along the road from Athens. The epithet Homer applies to Panopeus is thought to refer to the dance of the Thyiades.” – Pausanias, Description of Greece 10.4.3

Pausanias, Description of Greece 3.20.3

“In the city Brysiai in Lakedaimonia there still remains a temple of Dionysos with an image in the open. But the image in the temple women only may see, for women by themselves perform in secret the sacrificial rites.” – Pausanias, Description of Greece 3.20.3

Plutarch, On the Bravery of Women 13

“When the despots in Phocis had seized Delphi, and the Thebans were waging war against them in what has been called the Sacred War, the women devotees of Dionysos, to whom they give the name Thyiads, in Bacchic frenzy wandering at night unwittingly arrived at Amphissa. As they were tired out, and sober reason had not yet returned to them, they flung themselves down in the market-place, and were lying asleep, some here, some there. The wives of the men of Amphissa, fearing, because their city had become allied with the Phocians, and numerous soldiers of the despots were present there, that the Thyiads might be treated with indignity, all ran out into the market-place, and, taking their stand round about in silence, did not go up to them while they were sleeping, but when they arose from their slumber, one devoted herself to one of the strangers and another to another, bestowing attentions on them and offering them food. Finally, the women of Amphissa, after winning the consent of their husbands, accompanied the strangers, who were safely escorted as far as the fronteir.” – Plutarch, On the Bravery of Women 13

Plutarch, Life of Alexander 2.5-6

“All the women of Makedonia were addicted to the Orphic rites and the orgies of Dionysos from very ancient times (being called Klodones and Mimallones), and imitated in many ways the practices of the Edonian women and the Thracian women about Mount Haemus, from whom, as it would seem, the word ‘threskeuein‘ came to be applied to the celebration of extravagant and superstitious ceremonies. Now Olympias, who affected these divine possessions more zealously than other women, and carried out these divine inspirations in wilder fashion, used to provide the revelling companies with great tame serpents, which would often lift their heads from out the ivy and the mystic winnowing baskets, or coil themselves about the wands and garlands of the women, thus terrifying the men.” – Plutarch, Life of Alexander 2.5-6

Diodoros Sikeliotis, Library of History 17.72.1-6

“Alexander held games in honour of his victories. He performed costly sacrifices to the gods and entertained his friends bountifully. While they were feasting and the drinking was far advanced, as they began to be drunken a madness took possession of the minds of the intoxicated guests. At this point one of the women present, Thais by name and Attic by origin, said that for Alexander it would be the finest of all his feats in Asia if he joined them in a triumphal procession, set fire to the palaces, and permitted women’s hands in a minute to extinguish the famed accomplishments of the Persians. This was said to men who were still young and giddy with wine, and so, as would be expected, someone shouted out to form the comus and to light torches, and urged all to take vengeance for the destruction of the Greek temples. Others took up the cry and said that this was a deed worthy of Alexander alone. When the king had caught fire at their words, all leaped up from their couches and passed the word along to form a victory procession in honour of Dionysos. Promptly many torches were gathered. Female musicians were present at the banquet, so the king led them all out for the comus to the sound of voices and flutes and pipes, Thais the courtesan leading the whole performance. She was the first, after the king, to hurl her blazing torch into the palace. As the others all did the same, immediately the entire palace area was consumed, so great was the conflagration. It was most remarkable that the impious act of Xerxes, king of the Persians, against the acropolis at Athens should have been repaid in kind after many years by one woman, a citizen of the land which had suffered it, and in sport.” – Diodoros Sikeliotis, Library of History 17.72.1-6

Diodoros Sikeliotis, Library of History 4.3.2-5

“And the Boiotians and other Greeks and the Thracians, in memory of the campaign in India, have established sacrifices every other year to Dionysos, and believe that at that time the god reveals himself to human beings. Consequently in many Greek cities every other year Bacchic bands of women gather, and it is lawful for the maidens to carry the thyrsos and to join in the frenzied revelry, crying out ‘Euai!’ and honouring the god; while the matrons, forming in groups, offer sacrifices to the god and celebrate his mysteries and, in general, extol with hymns the presence of Dionysos, in this manner acting the parts of maenads who, as history records, were of old the companions of the god. He also punished here and there throughout all the inhabited world many men who were thought impious, the most renowned among the number being Pentheus and Lykourgos. And since the discovery of wine and the gift of it and because of the greater vigour which comes to the bodies of those who partake of it, it is the custom, they say, when unmixed wine is served during a meal to greet it with the words, ‘To the Good Deity!’ but when the cup is passed around after the meal diluted with water, to cry out ‘To Zeus Saviour!’ For the drinking of unmixed wine results in a state of madness, but when it is mixed with the rain from Zeus the delight and pleasure continue, but the ill effect of madness and stupor is avoided.” – Diodoros Sikeliotis, Library of History 4.3.2-5

Tacitus, Annals 11.31.2

“Messalina meanwhile, more wildly profligate than ever, was celebrating in mid-autumn a representation of the vintage in her new home. The presses were being trodden; the vats were overflowing; women girt with skins were dancing, as Bacchanals dance in their worship or their frenzy. Messalina with flowing hair shook the thyrsus, and Silius at her side, crowned with ivy and wearing the buskin, moved his head to some lascivious chorus.” – Tacitus, Annals 11.31.2

Plato, Ion 533e-534b

“For all good poets, epic as well as lyric, compose their beautiful poems not by art, but because they are inspired and possessed. And as the Corybantic revellers when they dance are not in their right mind, so the lyric poets are not in their right mind when they are composing their beautiful strains: but when falling under the power of music and metre they are inspired and possessed; like Bacchic maidens who draw milk and honey from the rivers when they are under the influence of Dionysos but not when they are in their right mind. And the soul of the lyric poet does the same, as they themselves say; for they tell us that they bring songs from honeyed fountains, culling them out of the gardens and dells of the Muses; they, like the bees, winging their way from flower to flower. And this is true. For the poet is a light and winged and holy thing, and there is no invention in him until he has been inspired and is out of his senses, and the mind is no longer in him: when he has not attained to this state, he is powerless and is unable to utter his oracles.” – Plato, Ion 533e-534b

The Life of St. Samson of Dol 47

“Now it came to pass, on a certain day, as he was on a journey through a certain district which they call Tricurius, he heard, on his left hand to be exact, men worshiping a certain idol after the custom of the Bacchantes, by means of a play in honour of an image. Thereupon he beckoned to his brothers that they should stand still and be silent while he himself, quietly descending from his chariot to the ground and standing upon his feet and observing those who worshiped the idol, saw in front of them, resting on the summit of a certain hill, an abominable image. On this hill I myself have been and have adored and with my hand traced the sign of the cross which St. Samson with his own hand carved by means of an iron instrument on a standing stone. When St. Samson saw the image, selecting two only of the brothers to be with him, he hastened quickly towards them, their chief, Guedianus standing at their head, and admonished them that they ought not to forsake the one god who created all things and worship an idol. They pleaded as excuse that it was not wrong to celebrate the mysteries of their progenitors in a play. Some others were quite furious, some mocked, but those of a saner mind strongly urged him to go away.” – The Life of St. Samson of Dol 47

Pausanias, Description of Greece 3.20.3

“In the city Brysiai in Lakedaimonia there still remains a temple of Dionysos with an image in the open. But the image in the temple women only may see, for women by themselves perform in secret the sacrificial rites.” – Pausanias, Description of Greece 3.20.3

Livy, History of Rome 39.13

“Then Hispala gave an account of the origin of these rites. At first they were confined to women; no male was admitted, and they had three stated days in the year on which persons were initiated during the daytime, and matrons were chosen to act as priestesses. Paculla Annia, a Campanian, when she was priestess, made a complete change, as though by divine monition, for she was the first to admit men, and she initiated her own sons, Minius Cerinnius and Herennius Cerinnius. At the same time she made the rite a nocturnal one, and instead of three days in the year celebrated it five times a month. When once the mysteries had assumed this promiscuous character, and men were mingled with women with all the licence of nocturnal orgies, there was no crime, no deed of shame, wanting. More uncleanness was wrought by men with men than with women. Whoever would not submit to defilement, or shrank from violating others, was sacrificed as a victim. To regard nothing as impious or criminal was the very sum of their religion. The men, as though seized with madness and with frenzied distortions of their bodies, shrieked out prophecies; the matrons, dressed as Bacchae, their hair dishevelled, rushed down to the Tiber with burning torches, plunged them into the water, and drew them out again, the flame undiminished, as they were made of sulphur mixed with lime. Men were fastened to a machine and hurried off to hidden caves, and they were said to have been rapt away by the gods; these were the men who refused to join their conspiracy or take a part in their crimes or submit to pollution. They formed an immense multitude, almost equal to the population of Rome; amongst them were members of noble families both men and women. It had been made a rule for the last two years that no one more than twenty years old should be initiated; they captured those to be deceived and polluted.” – Livy, History of Rome 39.13

Livy, History of Rome 39.8

“A low-born Greek went into Etruria first of all, but did not bring with him any of the numerous arts which that most accomplished of all nations has introduced amongst us for the cultivation of mind and body. He was a hedge-priest and wizard, not one of those who imbue men’s minds with error by professing to teach their superstitions openly for money, but a hierophant of secret nocturnal mysteries. At first these were divulged to only a few; then they began to spread amongst both men and women, and the attractions of wine and feasting increased the number of his followers. When they were heated with wine and the nightly commingling of men and women, those of tender age with their seniors, had extinguished all sense of modesty, debaucheries of every kind commenced; each had pleasures at hand to satisfy the lust he was most prone to. Nor was the mischief confined to the promiscuous intercourse of men and women; false witness, the forging of seals and testaments, and false informations, all proceeded from the same source, as also poisonings and murders of families where the bodies could not even be found for burial. Many crimes were committed by treachery; most by violence, which was kept secret, because the cries of those who were being violated or murdered could not be heard owing to the noise of drums and cymbals.” – Livy, History of Rome 39.8

HSCP 82:148

“Bakchai of the City, say ‘Farewell you holy priestess.’ This is what a good woman deserves. She led you to the mountain and carried all the sacred objects and implements, marching in procession before the whole city. Should some stranger ask for her name: Alkmeonis, daughter of Rhodios, who knew her share of the blessings.” – HSCP 82:148

LSAM 48

“Whenever the priestess performs the holy rites on behalf of the city … it is not permitted for anyone to throw pieces of raw meat [anywhere], before the priestess has thrown them on behalf of the city, nor is it permitted for anyone to assemble a thiasos of mainades before the public thiasos [has been assembled] … to provide [for the women] the implements of initiation in all the orgies … And whether a woman wishes to perform an initiation for Dionysos Bakchios in the city, in the countryside, or on the islands, she must pay a piece of gold to the priestess at each biennial celebration.” – LSAM 48

Demosthenes, On the Crown 259-60

“On attaining manhood, you abetted your mother in her initiations and the other rituals, and read aloud from the cultic writings. At night, you mixed the libations, purified the initiates, and dressed them in fawnskins. You cleansed them off with clay and cornhusks, and raising them up from the purification, you led the chant, ‘The evil I flee, the better I find.’ … In the daylight, you led the fine thiasos through the streets, wearing their garlands of fennel and white poplar. You rubbed the fat-cheeked snakes and swung them above your head crying ‘Euoi Saboi’ and dancing to the tune of ‘hues attes, attes hues‘. Old women hailed you ‘Leader’, ‘mysteries instructor’, ‘ivy-bearer’, ‘liknon carrier’, and the like.” – Demosthenes, On the Crown 259-60

IMagnMai 215

(Side A) To good fortune!  During the presidency of Akrodemos, son of Dioteimos, the Magnesian people consulted the god concerning a sign which happened.  For an image of Dionysos was visible in a tree that had been struck by lightening and blown by a heavy wind.  What does this mean?  Why does it continue?  In order to find this out, oracular messengers named Hermonax, son of Epikratos, and Aristarchos, son of Diodoros, were sent to Delphi.

The god answered:

Magnesians, who obtained the holy city on the Maeander river and defend our possessions: you came to hear from my mouth what the appearance of Bakchos, seen lying by a bush, means.  He was made manifest while still a youth, when the clear‑aired city was founded but temples were not yet built for Dionysos.

Now do the following, oh extremely strong people.  Dedicate temples which delight in the wand of the god and appoint a perfect and sacred priest.  Come onto Thebes’ holy ground, so that you may receive maenads who are descendants of Ino, Kadmos’ daughter.  They will give to you good rites and customs and will consecrate Bacchic associations (thiasoi) in the city.

According to the oracle and by means of the oracular messengers, three maenads named Kosko, Baubo, and Thettale were sent from Thebes.  Kosko gathered together the association of Platanistenai, Baubo the association before the city, and Thettale the association of Kataibatai.  They died and were buried by the Magnesians.  Kosko lies in Koskobounos district, Baubo in Tabarnis district, and Thettale near the theatre.

(Side B)  Apollonios Mokolles, ancient initiate, dedicated this ancient oracle to the god Dionysos, inscribing it upon a plaque together with the altar.

– IMagnMai 215