Following is an outline of the chapter along with the
main learning objectives. To help coordinate your studies, this outline and the
learning objectives are organized to match your textbook. This organization is also
utilized in the chapter review section.
Part 1: Key themes
- You should be able to compare the dominant attributes of the God
Dionysus to the God Apollo in terms of representative roles within the hierarchy of
Olympus, the patriarchy of ancient Greek culture; essential nature myths tied to each; and
concepts of the human psyche as represented by the two gods.
- You should relate the God Dionysus to concepts of the
"instinctual life force that animates nature" and to his role as God of the vine
and intoxication, of the cycle of nature -- birth, growth, death, regeneration, as a male
Persephone who makes the earth produce grain and vine
- You should be able to discuss the God Dionysus in terms of his
role as liberator; as God of intoxication, which "shatters conventional
restraints" and "permits humans to act out extremes of emotion and
behavior" -- the irrational forces of the subconscious (especially the appetites of
- You should be able to relate the psychological role of the god
of intoxication to the historical significance of wine -- as a major export, as a
non-functional gift of the gods, as the medium which "gladdens the hearts of
- You should be able to theorize on the place of such intoxication
and its attendant celebrations on the normally narrow confines (and gender roles) of
women's lives within the culture of ancient Greece.
Part 2: Dionysus and
Apollo: Contrasts and Connections
- You should be able to discuss the God Dionysus as a contrast to
the God Apollo in terms of Apollo's rational, mental balance vs. Dionysus' irrational
power and emotional self-abandon -- though both inspire poetry, song and dance and are
linked with the other arts; as well as physical aspects of their divine rituals in which
followers of both gods speak in tongues in ecstatic trances ("ecstasy" here
meaning "overcome by spirit").
- You should be able to discuss relevant elements that contrast
the gods -- i.e. the sophisticated harmony of Apollo's music of lyre and pipe vs. the
cacophonous, pulsing frenzied dances of the Bacchants accompanied by furious drums.
Part 3: The Dionysian
- You should recognize the major elements of the myths surrounding
the birth of Dionysus; including the myth of his mother, Semele who was tricked by jealous
Hera into asking that her mysterious seducer (Zeus) reveal his true form -- which
incinerated the poor woman. Zeus quickly rescues the embryo and sews it to his own thigh,
eventually giving birth to his son, Dionysus.
- Dionysus is often called "twice-born" because he was
conceived in a woman's womb, but born from the thigh of Zeus. You should be able to
discuss this miraculous birthing in terms of the hierarchy of Olympus (Hera's offspring as
gods and goddesses and other gods and goddesses through Zeus' own actions and the battles
thereof), of Dionysus replacing Vestia as one of the 12 official gods and goddesses , and
in terms of the patriarchal gender roles of ancient Greece.
- You should be able to discuss the significance of Dionysus, the
God of sensuous pleasure as well as unpredictable savagery, being raised by nymphs on
- You should be able to discuss the ability of the God of Wine to
change his mood and shape, like the liquid wine; and the significance of his preferred
shape of goat --which is the shape in which Zeus smuggled him (unseen by watchful,
vengeful Hera) to the isle of the mountain nymphs.
- You should be able to discuss the significance of the panther in
terms of the God Dionysus, including concepts of gender roles, the physical effects of
intoxication, the psychology of this specific animal form.
- You should be able to contrast the God Dionysus' other attendant
creature, the panther, in terms of the savagery connected with the God of intoxication and
sensuality -- the unpredictable eruption of violence and mindlessness.
- You should recognize the symbolism and attributes of other
creatures such as satyrs and silens of half-human, half-horse attributes, Bacchantes and
maenads who are wild women devoted to the orgiastic rites of the God Dionysus -- and their
implication of bestiality and strange rituals linked to the God Dionysus' worship, as well
as strange rites attributed to his travels in far-off cultures.
- You should be able to discuss the related myths from other
cultures, as well as prehistoric Goddess worship and nature god worship, that
conceptualize a God born mortal, who must journey to the Underworld (undoing a violent
death in which he is torn to pieces) to be reborn into immortality or who is
ritualistically sacrificed for the fertility cycle to function.
- You should be able to discuss the cultural significance of the
myth of the God Dionysus teaching Icarius -- an old mortal gardener -- how to cultivate
and ferment the vine, and the aspect of the myth of Icarius traveling to distant lands to
teach others this divine knowledge.
- You should be able to discuss the significance of the "goat
dance' in connection with the myth of the God Dionysus and Icarius -- and the pervasive
form of goat in many myths in terms of gender roles and fertility rituals.
- You should recognize the melding of the myth of Orpheus with
myths of the God Dionysus as an evolution from the more abandoned behavior to a balance.
- You should be able to discuss the Hymn to Dionysus in
terms of the powerful workings of the God Dionysus in dealing with his captors, the
implications of turning the sailors into dolphins, and the concept of interactions between
humans and the gods and goddesses.
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