« PreviousContinue »
who were Nyssæic and Dodonæic nymphs. Silenus the Curete was his teacher and nourisher, and Hermes bore him as a child into heaven. According to others, Jupiter caused him to be brought to Nissa in the form of a he-goat, and educated by the nymphs, who were then placed in heavens, and as the Hyades brought rain.
Hera perseveringly pursuing him, he became mad, and went to Dodona to be cured; he rode on an ass that could speak, and finally came to the hill of Cybela in Phrygia, whence Rhea carried him off, and consecrated him.
In reality the three Dionysii were one being. A symbolic feast was celebrated in honour of him who was torn to pieces by the Titans, and the history of the old one was transferred to the new. In Zagreus, his tortures and death appear to be his peculiar characteristic,-the mystery of faith. On the other hand, he is the hunter of life, to whom all living are a prey; and according to Snidos, Zagreus was the subterranean Dionysos. He improved the ancient orgies, and founded new; and thus arose the type of the Dionysosfigures. In the bearded god was recognised the Indian; and on the other hand, the son of Semele was effeminate, and inclined to pleasure. The panther-skin denoted the warrior, and the god of peace was distinguished by a flowing, luxurious robe, and the mitre, afterwards a diadem.
The worship of Bacchus spread itself through the whole world; he and Demeter were the benefactors of all, and by all were honoured. His worship in India, Egypt, and farther Asia, is well known; in Arabia, Dionysos and Urania were alone worshipped by all the gods. In Persia, a festival was celebrated in honour of Bacchus, as the producer of verdure, the founder, the re-awakener and genius of spring. In Scythia and Bactria, women celebrated the Bacchanalin with Indian and Thracian customs. From Thracia the worship spread itself towards the north as far as the Ister and to the ocean. The diffusion of his worship was represented under the form of a warlike expedition, and the legends of distant people corroborate this account. arrived in Greece long before the Theban Cadmus. But commonly Dionysos does not appear as a warrior; he did not compel the people by force, but through enthusiastic practices. He led women in his train, loved music and
jollity, and, therefore, the muses and the satyrs accompanied him. Everywhere he diffused his benefits; taught the cultivation of the vine, the brewing of barley, the culture of grain; and instead of the old, simple worship, a public one, with solemn processions, with bands of musicians and dances. Everywhere he promoted sociality amongst men, and appeared as the establisher of peace, but only amongst the pious and the upright, through which the character of the reformer is apparent.
According to the Indian doctrine, Bacchus was born on Mount Meros, in a cave. Meros, in the Indian, means a thigh; and thence the legend that Bacchus was hidden in the thigh of Zeus. On Meros, Bacchus arrayed his forces for the Indian expedition, and there was the rock on which Zeus destroyed the Typhon.
Passing over the many different names given him by different nations, as Lysius, Lyæos, the conductor of souls from and to heaven; Kolonotas, the lord of graves; Demetrius, of the dead; Licritus, the arisen; Amphietes, the returner; Hyes, the lord of moist nature, etc., which are full of meaning, we shall here only cursorily notice the life and original signification of Dionysos or Bacchus.
Bacchus was most intimately united with Demeter, "the demon and co-ruler in the bosom of the Eleusinian god" (Bart, p. 123.) That was Isis, the daughter of Prometheus, of the ancient Cabiri; thus the same as the Egyptian Cabiri. His being, says Diodorus, is manifold. The Orpheists style him the material soul of the world, which, having proceeded from one source, communicates soul to every part of the world, as the human soul does to the human body. He is the father of Asterion, of the giant, of the Asar, of the Curetes, and who commanded the Corybantish Hyle. Hyle is the wild tumult which stupifies the souls descending from the godhead. She forms, through her impregnation, all bodies; she is that divine drink, the Nectar, awaking the physical life. The spirit in that life is Dionysos; the only, the unchangeable God, who, according to his will, subjects himself to mutability, and appears in air and water, in earth and the stars, in plants and animals, Zagreus in the form of dismemberment. In the myth of the many forms, the doctrine of death and the resurrection are concealed. Thus he
is the creator of the individual as he proceeds from the general, the re-awakener, and form-giver in an eternal circle.
According to the Orphean doctrine (Macrob. Saturnalia, i. 18), he was represented as the Demiurgus, with attributes which the four elements represent, for he ruled in all. Earth and heaven were his body, which is subjected to mutability, but the spirit is eternal. The body is only changed, not destroyed; and at a future day will arise from the grave and appear glorified. For the buried Dionysos himself arose in splendour, descended into the regions of the dead amongst the demons of Demeter, and therefore his intimate connection with Persephone. The Phallus is the pledge of return; the symbol of everlasting production, and of the resurrection of the flesh.
The theory of Dionysos unites itself, after a severe conflict, with that of Apollo. According to Creuzer, in his "Symbolism," p. 156, the worship of Apollo is older than that of Dionysos; and the myth of Lycurgos was a conflict for the ancient faith of light, as unity, against the encroaching pressure of the dominance of the physical world,-against the more easily comprehensible, but as easily misunderstood worship of the deity, till finally one being was recognised in both. Dionysos had his tomb and his resurrection in Delphi; Apollo had buried him in Parnassus, which was consecrated to both. In the cave of Bacchus there was a Delphic oracle; there were two Bacchanalia celebrated every two years, and some regarded the deities as mixed beings, others affirmed that there was but one being. (See Macrobius, Arnobius, Lucan, and Suidas.) Dionysos is, like Apollo, a prophet; and in Thrace he had an important oracle, on the summit of Pangæus, where, as at Delphi, a priestess announced to the father of Augustus the brilliant fortunes of his son. Dionysos, like Apollo, was the head of the Muses, the teacher and patron of song and of poets. Apollo inspired the seers, Bacchus the enthusiasts. Dionysos conducted the souls back again to the primeval fountain, and Apollo rewards his pious worshippers by taking them away from the earth. Dionysos is nourished by Night, Nyssa; he is called Nyssæus, Nyctelius, the hidden of Night. Apollo is the son of Latona, whom Buto cherishes on the Island of
Night. In Egypt, Horus was a son of Osiris, as Attica acknowledged an Apollo given by Dionysos. But the brother of Osiris was also Horus, he who was Zagreus dismembered, and again re-arisen. Apollo betokens unity; Delphos is called the One, who only reveals bimself in manifold forms when he advances into the visible world. Light is the symbol of spiritual unity; when it advances into time and space, then it is Horus, the son of the father Osiris. An obscure Delphic doctrine says-Apollo is fulness; Dionysos, privation, want; therefore the former was worshipped for nine months of the year, and the latter during the three winter months. Then he appears as Aides, Nyctelius, compared to the natural, descending sun, who conducts the souls into the nether world, until they have undergone the purification by fire, and arise out of the house of disease and trouble into the fulness of heavenly light.
When Plutarch represents Bacchus and Apollo as prophetic divinities, we find the account very strikingly descriptive of the phenomena of magnetic somnambulism, in which the first ecstasy shows itself in two prominent forms: one clear, gentle, and like light in its perspicacity; a fine moral tone of mind in a tranquil body; the inner vision of a new, unfolded sense revealing itself through a free will in positive action; while the other form has something excited and demoniac, that alternates frivolity and sport, with waywardness and jest, nay, even with raving. These two forms appear well embodied in the myths of Apollo and Bacchus, and wrapped in enigma, which are intelligible to the initiated. There physical is linked to metaphysical, historical to religious, the divine reflected in nature. For all further particulars of the worship of Bacchus, I must refer to Bart's work, and to Schelling's Enquiry into the Samothracian Divinities.
Allied to the Curetes and Corybantes, says Bart, are the Telchines and the Dactyls, which are frequently held to be identical. They appear in these characters-1st. As tillers of land and servants of the gods of the primeval times. A race which emigrated from Crete to Cyprus, and thence to Rhodes. According to others, they were a primeval people in Peloponnesus 1070 years before the building of Rome. They were driven thence, and fled to an island full of serpents,
called from that cause Ophiusa, but after them Telchines, and afterwards Rhodes. They again quitted Rhodes, because they foresaw an inundation of the island, and thence dispersed themselves into different countries. Bart believes that their emigration from Crete stands in connection with that of Apis, who once ruled over the peninsula. He was a son of Telchin, or of Phoroneus, whom some state to be a son of Machus, and others a cotemporary of Ninus, and the father of Jo, or Isis. Apis was thus her brother; Osiris, the Bacchus of the Greeks, came to Egypt as Corybas came to the country of the Tyrrhenes. Even St. Augustine (de civit. Dei, xviii. 5) states that he went to Egypt. According to the legend of Rhodes, the Telchini were natives of that island. According to Diodorus, they were called the demons of the East, because, on account of an offence against Aphrodite, they were hidden in the earth. The giants inhabited the western part of the island.
2ndly. The Telchini were regarded as sorcerers and malicious demons. According to Strabo, Tovηpoi kai yores; according to Suidas, πονηροὶ καὶ βάσκανοι δαίμονες. They were believed to be the sons of Thalassa, of the Sea or of Poseidon, and, therefore, Eustathios represents them in the shape of sea-nymphs, without feet, but with fins. They can send hail, rain, and snow, or prevent their falling; they can assume all forms (Diod. v. 55.) They mix Stygian water with sulphur, in order to destroy beasts and plants (Strabo, xiv.) Their glance, the evil eye, is fatal (Ovid. Metamorph.) Here we have already the whole nature of witches portrayed.
"The Telchini," says Bart, p. 10, were to Poseidon what the Curetes were to Zeus. They were, like them, punished by their foster-child, and may be classified with the giants, as these with the Titans. They foretold a great flood, quitted the island, and scattered themselves through many countries, or they were driven out of the island by the sons of Helios, as the Heliades now increased, and wandered, as if seized by madness, to and fro on the sea, Séλye. They were called deluders, because they changed θέλγειν. their forms, and understood arts; while, in fact, these evil reports were invented by their enemies out of envy of their