Classical Mythology Images and Insight, Third Edition

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

    1. 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.
    2. 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 .
    3. 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 the libido).
    4. 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 all".
    5. 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

    1. 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").
    2. 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 Myth

    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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 Mount Nysa.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. 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.
    8. 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.
    9. 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.
    10. 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.
    11. 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.
    12. 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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