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ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7     Blesok no. 10-11 | volume II | August-November, 1999



                     Peer-reviewed journal
Blesok no. 10-11August-November, 1999

The Dionysus Phenomenon and the Metamorphoses in Macedonian Oral Literature

p. 1
Lenka Tatarovska

    The cult of Dionysus came to the Hellenists from Trakia and Macedonia[1] and according to some, it originates from Asia Minor[2]. The myth about the torn apart child Dionysus – Jagerus was made known by Christian authors[3]. On Hera’s command, the newborn son of Zeus was torn apart by the Titans, and a tree sprout immediately on the ground where his blood dropped. The Titans placed the torn body into a cauldron and boiled him. But the goddess Rhea put the pieces back together and brought him back to life. Later on, by the order of his father Zeus, through Hermes, Dionysus was transformed into both a goat and a ram, and was given to the care of the nymphs in one of the caves on the hill of Nis. The Epicurean Philodem, from Cicerone’s time, talked about the tree births of Dionysus, i.e.: the first of a mother, the second of Zeus’ hip bone, similar to the Hittite god of the winds born in Kumbaya – where any existence of a mother was excluded. This ceremonial birth, of male sex only, is a well know Jewish ceremony borrowed from the Hittites (Book of Ruth 3:9)[4]. The third birth of Dionysus was when his grandmother – the goddess Rhea saved the heart of the torn child and joined the pieces together. In this „crime of the Titans“ the old scenario through which the child was given a divine immortality can be recognized. Also, the most dramatic episode of the myth is the tearing and the boiling part. The passing of the human body through fire and it’s metamorphosis also represents an initiation ceremony through which immortality was achieved. The tearing, boiling or passing through fire was a feature of the Shaman initiation.
    The initiation character of the Dionysus ceremony can be easily recognized in Delphi where the women were celebrating the rebirth of the god. While they were celebrating, the torn body of Dionysus was placed into a basket, ready to be reborn. Later on, Orpheus was considered as a reformer of Dionysus mysteries, and in the fifth century they adopt „orphic“ elements. Dionysus was a god who was different from the Olympian gods, and who was amazing with his appearances and variety of transformations. Always moving about, he was always ready to be connected with different, even antagonistic, divinities such as e.g. Demitrus and Apollon[5]. This god is known by


1. Milosh N. Gjuric, Orfizam I helenska filozofija I Dionisov kult I njegovo oblagorogjivanje u orfizmu, vo: Kroz helensku istoriju, knjizhevnost I muziku (studije I ogledi), Beograd, 1955, 227.
2. Vojin Matikj, Sveti vuk, vo: Zaboravljena bozhanstva, Beograd, 1972, 59.
3. Mircha Elijade, Istorija verovanja I religiskih ideja I, Od kamenog doba do Eleusinskih misterija. Prevela Biljana Jukic. Beograd, 1991, 312.
4. Robert Grevs, Grchki mitovi, prva knjiga. Beograd, 1974, 104-105, 109-110.
5. Mircha Elijade, Istorija verovanja I religijskih ideja I, … Str. 314. ; Robert Grevs, Grchki mitovi, prva knjiga… Str. 109.

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