GOD OF MADNESS, PHANTOMS & HALLUCINATION
“Bacchus [Dionysos] himself, grape-bunches garlanding his brow, brandished a spear that vine-leaves twined, and at his feet fierce spotted panthers lay, tigers and lynxes too, in phantom forms.” – Ovid Metamorphoses 3.572
“[Dionysos makes phantoms appear:] the crash of unseen drums clamoured, and fifes and jingling brass resounded, and the air was sweet with scents or myrrh and saffron, and – beyond belief! – the weaving all turned green, the hanging cloth grew leaves of ivy, part became a vine, what had been threads formed tendrils, form the warp broad leaves unfurled, bunches of grapes were seen, matching the purple with their coloured sheen. And now the day was spent, the hour stole on when one would doubt if it were light or dark, some lingering light at nights vague borderlands. Suddenly the whole house began to shake, the lamps flared up, and all the rooms were bright with flashing crimson fires, and phantom forms of savage beasts of prey howled all around.” – Ovid, Metamorphoses 4. 389
(William Bouguereau – La Jeunesse de Bacchus [The Youth of Bacchus])
Bacchus – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Bring me wine, but wine which never grew
In the belly of the grape,
Or grew on vine whose tap-roots, reaching through
Under the Andes to the Cape,
Suffer no savor of the earth to scape.
Let its grapes the morn salute
From a nocturnal root,
Which feels the acrid juice
Of Styx and Erebus;
And turns the woe of Night,
By its own craft, to a more rich delight.
We buy ashes for bread;
We buy diluted wine;
Give me of the true,
Whose ample leaves and tendrils curled
Among the silver hills of heaven
Draw everlasting dew;
Wine of wine,
Blood of the world,
Form of forms, and mold of statures,
That I intoxicated,
And by the draught assimilated,
May float at pleasure through all natures;
The bird-language rightly spell,
And that which roses say so well.
Wine that is shed
Like the torrents of the sun
Up the horizon walls,
Or like the Atlantic streams, which run
When the South Sea calls.
Water and bread,
Food which needs no transmuting,
Wine which is already man,
Food which teach and reason can.
Wine which Music is,
Music and wine are one,
That I, drinking this,
Shall hear far Chaos talk with me;
Kings unborn shall walk with me;
And the poor grass shall plot and plan
What it will do when it is man. Inner link
Quickened so, will I unlock
Every crypt of every rock.
I thank the joyful juice
For all I know;
Winds of remembering
Of the ancient being blow,
And seeming-solid walls of use
Open and flow.
Pour, Bacchus! the remembering wine;
Retrieve the loss of men and mine!
Vine for vine be antidote,
And the grape requite the lote!
Haste to cure the old despair,
Reason in Nature’s lotus drenched,
The memory of ages quenched;
Give them again to shine;
A dazzling memory revive;
Refresh the faded tints,
Recut the aged prints,
And write my old adventures with the pen
Which on the first day drew,
Upon the tablets blue,
The dancing Pleiads and eternal men.
A good weekend – My father and step-mother came to visit; a reunion of sorts with other family members. Both of my nephews came by, as well as their mom.
Worked at a site after they all left, and was gifted by our friend Janice with a new cabernet and some foch grape juice as well. We stopped by our friend Glen’s house (who happens to be the vintner of the cabernet) and had a taste of the new wine. Truly heady stuff.
This is indeed the season of Dionysus/Bacchus, and we celebrate it today with poetry, a bit of history and some lovely art from that very fine French Artist : William Bouguereau. Click on this link to see the full painting: La Jeunesse de Bacchus – The Youth of Bacchus
On the Menu:
The Chakras… (Alex Gray Animation)
To Dionysus – Hesiod
Excerpts from “The Bacchae”
Have a good one!
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I will tell of Dionysus, the son of glorious Semele, how he appeared on a jutting headland by the shore of the fruitless sea, seeming like a stripling in the first flush of manhood: his rich, dark hair was waving about him, and on his strong shoulders he wore a purple robe. Presently there came swiftly over the sparkling sea Tyrsenian pirates on a well- decked ship — a miserable doom led them on. When they saw him they made signs to one another and sprang out quickly, and seizing him straightway, put him on board their ship exultingly; for they thought him the son of heaven-nurtured kings. They sought to bind him with rude bonds, but the bonds would not hold him, and the withes fell far away from his hands and feet: and he sat with a smile in his dark eyes. Then the helmsman understood all and cried out at once to his fellows and said:
(-Probably not Etruscans, but the non-Hellenic peoples of Thrace and (according to Thucydides) of Lemnos and Athens. Cp. Herodotus i. 57; Thucydides iv. 109.-)
`Madmen! What god is this whom you have taken and bind, strong that he is? Not even the well-built ship can carry him. Surely this is either Zeus or Apollo who has the silver bow, or Poseidon, for he looks not like mortal men but like the gods who dwell on Olympus. Come, then, let us set him free upon the dark shore at once: do not lay hands on him, lest he grow angry and stir up dangerous winds and heavy squalls.’
So said he: but the master chid him with taunting words: “Madman, mark the wind and help hoist sail on the ship: catch all the sheets. As for this fellow we men will see to him: I reckon he is bound for Egypt or for Cyprus or to the Hyperboreans or further still. But in the end he will speak out and tell us his friends and all his wealth and his brothers, now that providence has thrown him in our way.”
When he had said this, he had mast and sail hoisted on the ship, and the wind filled the sail and the crew hauled taut the sheets on either side. But soon strange things were seen among them. First of all sweet, fragrant wine ran streaming throughout all the black ship and a heavenly smell arose, so that all the seamen were seized with amazement when they saw it. And all at once a vine spread out both ways along the top of the sail with many clusters hanging down from it, and a dark ivy-plant twined about the mast, blossoming with flowers, and with rich berries growing on it; and all the thole-pins were covered with garlands. When the pirates saw all this, then at last they bade the helmsman to put the ship to land. But the god changed into a dreadful lion there on the ship, in the bows, and roared loudly: amidships also he showed his wonders and created a shaggy bear which stood up ravening, while on the forepeak was the lion glaring fiercely with scowling brows. And so the sailors fled into the stern and crowded bemused about the right-minded helmsman, until suddenly the lion sprang upon the master and seized him; and when the sailors saw it they leapt out overboard one and all into the bright sea, escaping from a miserable fate, and were changed into dolphins. But on the helmsman Dionysus had mercy and held him back and made him altogether happy, saying to him:
`Take courage, good…; you have found favour with my heart. I am loud-crying Dionysus whom Cadmus’ daughter Semele bare of union with Zeus.’
Hail, child of fair-faced Semele! He who forgets you can in no wise order sweet song.
From The Bacchae:
One grasped her thyrsus staff, and smote the rock,
And forth upleapt a fountain’s showry spray:
One in earth’s bosom planted her reed-wand,
And up there through the god a wine-fount sent:
And whoso fain would drink white-foaming draughts
Scarred with their finger tips the breast of earth,
And milk gushed forth unstinted: dripped the while
Sweet streams of honey from their ivy staves.
The land flows with milk,
the land flows with wine,
the land flows with honey from the bees.
He holds the torch high,
our leader, the Bacchic One,
blazing flame of pine,
sweet smoke like Syrian incense,
trailing from his thyrsus.
As he dances, he runs,
here and there,
rousing the stragglers,
stirring them with his cries,
thick hair rippling in the breeze.
Among the Maenads’ shouts
his voice reverberates:
“On Bacchants, on!
With the glitter of Tmolus,
which flows with gold,
chant songs to Dionysus,
to the loud beat of our drums.
Celebrate the god of joy
with your own joy,
with Phrygian cries and shouts!
When sweet sacred pipes
play out their rhythmic holy song,
in time to the dancing wanderers,
then to the mountains,
on, on to the mountains.”
Then the bacchanalian woman
is filled with total joy
like a foal in pasture
right beside her mother
her swift feet skip in playful dance.