Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Bacchus #atozchallenge

B - One of the most fascinating Gods of the classical era is Bacchus (or Dionysus if you prefer the Greek name). Bacchus is the God of Wine and Madness (also agriculture and theater), and is often portrayed as a rather effeminate God.

His birth story varies depending upon whom you ask...


In one version of the tale, Bacchus was the son of Zeus and Semele. Hera, Zeus's wife, wasn't thrilled when Semele confided that she was pregnant with Zeus's child, so she tricked Semele into demanding Zeus reveal his true form. When he did so, Semele died, leaving Zeus to carry Bacchus in a womb-pocket until his birth. 

In another, he was the son of Zeus and Persephone. In this version, Hera sent the Titans to murder Bacchus. Zeus drove the Titans away, but not before they consumed all but Bacchus's heart, which was saved by one Goddess or another. Zeus used the heart to recreate Bacchus, whom he then implanted in Semele's womb, allowing him to be twice born or reborn.

Bacchus is the quintessential "heathen god" in many respects.

First and foremost, a debate still wages in some circles as to whether Jesus was modeled after Bacchus. The similarities are striking. Both were born to a God and a human mother. They were both reborn. They both turned water into wine. And so on and so forth. Given that Bacchus wasn't exactly a proper and pious God (as it were) and the theory turns a central tenent of Christianity (belief in the life and times of Jesus) on its head, this debate is particularly troubling to some. 

Bacchus was so intertwined with parties that he's said to have induced a frenzy in his followers... one they used to do very ungodly things. Massive orgies were thrown in his honor in the streets of ancient Greece and Rome. The Bacchanalia were so steeped in sex and crime, they were eventually outlawed in Rome. But not even a little thing like outlawing an orgy stopped the randy masses. The Bacchanalia continued to be held in secret. 

The Dionysian Mysteries (also referred to as the Cult of Dionysus) has also been attributed to Bacchus in Rome and Dionysus in Greece, though it's likely the cult predated Bacchus/Dionysus. Regardless, the Dionysian Mysteries was an influential religion unto itself at the time. Followers used intoxicants to lower inhibitions and return one to a "natural" state. They, for all intents and purposes, sought that frenzied, liberated state associated with Bacchus. Particularly troubling was the cults' encouragement of participation by women, slaves, and others marginalized by society, and the sacrifices they undertook in an effort to "assimilate the body of the god with his own flesh and blood" (see At a Dionysian Mystery). During these frenzied rituals, it's said that it wasn't uncommon for humans to be torn to shreds and consumed. 

Now, whether that's true or not... I can't begin to tell you. My psychometric power never developed (dang it all!) so I wasn't there and I didn't see it. But the story is pretty heathen, even for the followers of a "heathen" god. Of course, that could also be one of the many tales spread by the Church in an attempt to demonize Pagan practices of the time and further distance Bacchus from Jesus. Either way, the scandalous Dionysian Mysteries is pretty fascinating, don't you think?


xoxo,
Ayden


FALLThe Ragnarök Prophesies: Book Two is now available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and KOBO. FADE - The Ragnarök Prophesies: Book Two is available at: Amazon US | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Books-a-Million

13 comments:

  1. That was an amazing little history lesson! I'd never recognized the similarities between Bacchus and Jesus until this post. Very interesting! I'm commenting (of course) and sharing!

    Alex Hurst, fantasy author in Japan. "B is for Books" is my current post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Alex, I read a paper on the similarities between Bacchus and Jesus a few years ago. There are so many fascinating similarities between various religions, particularly between religions that battled it out in the same regions of the world. We know, for instance, that the Church in Rome intentionally coincided a lot of their holidays with Pagan festivities to draw folks away from those festivities and into the Church. It helped the Church gain a foothold in a region where Paganism had been "the way" for a long time. Society tends to be more comfortable with new ideas when those ideas are patterned after practices they already hold, which is probably why the hierarchy of so many religions tend to so closely resemble how we categorize and group ourselves. Religion takes a lot of blame for the ills of the world (ie: the treatment of women), but I tend to think those ills were already there. Those in charge in a religious capacity used what was already available and built on it from there.

      Ayden

      Delete
  2. Torn to shreds or consumed - think I would find another faith at that point. Interesting stuff!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Alex, definitely! I don't think I'd much like to be ripped apart and eaten. It soundly entirely unpleasant. Thanks for stopping by!

      Ayden

      Delete
  3. Very cool. I almost forgot about this guy. Pleased to find your blog! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. David, thanks for stopping by! For such a popular (at the time) god, he does tend to be forgotten easily. :)

      Ayden

      Delete
  4. I don't like wine, but I do like madness, and beer. Is there a god for beer?

    Cold As Heaven

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are several! Aegir was the Norse brewer god. And the Norse also had Byggvir, the god of barley. He actually has a grain festival in his honor every December. And Asnan was the Mesopotamian goddess of grain. People everywhere loved their alcohol gods/goddesses! :)

      Ayden

      Delete
  5. I don't like wine, but I do like madness, and beer. Is there a god for beer?

    Cold As Heaven

    ReplyDelete
  6. Very cool. I'm with Alex, I never noticed the similarities till they were pointed out either...got me pondering.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Millie, it's pretty interesting stuff. If you ever have the opportunity to look it up, definitely do. Lots of fascinating similarities out there, not just between Jesus and Bacchus, but between Jesus and Horus, and the gods/goddesses of so many different cultures.

      Ayden

      Delete
  7. Yay, Dionysus! My favourite of the Greek/Roman gods for several reasons: 1) I'm a theatre nerd, and Dionysus was closely associated with the theatre, 2) I've always found the connections between Dionysus and Christ to be fascinating (and there are several other religious figures based on the same template), and 3) Guess what the "D" in my initials stands for? :-)

    Love the post! Great read.

    A-to-Z Blog Challenge
    @CDGallantKing on Twitter
    cdgallantking.ca

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He tends to be one of my favorite Greek/Roman gods as well. He's a fun god, and a pretty interesting one to boot. Who doesn't love a little scandal in their deities?!

      Thanks so much for stopping by!

      Ayden

      Delete

Blog Archive