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City Dionysia

Post  AgathonZante on Sun Mar 09, 2014 8:37 pm

How did the ancients celebrate the Festival of Dionysus, like the one that's going on right now just before Spring? 9th-13th.
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Re: City Dionysia

Post  Erodius on Sun Mar 09, 2014 10:45 pm

The spring Dionysia, usually called the City Dionysia, although at its core it was a dedication to Bacchus, was actually something like the Classical equivalent of the Academy Awards/Oscars. It was an enormous and, at the time, world-renowned theatre and drama festival, during which the best playwrights from all around the Graeco-Roman world would have their dramas performed for audiences in the open air theatres of Athens (the most famous of which was called the 'Theatre of Dionysus' to whom it was dedicated.) There would be several major performances a day of longer tragedies, from morning til dusk, with shorter intermissions of comedies and lighthearted 'satyr-plays'. The performances were judged by a panel of professional theatre critics (just like they are today in our modern award shows), and the playwright whose play got the best score would win both a monetary prize, as well as various sorts of victory trophy type things (inscribed vases, for instance), as well as both fame for himself, and for his work. A great many of the now famous Greek tragedies that survive today probably did so primarily because of their performance during the City Dionysia at Athens.

Sophocles, the writer of such still-famous tragedies as the Antigone and Oedipus the King, was something like the Spielberg of his day, winning many awards at the City Dionysia, and becoming the most successful and celebrated playwright in all of Antiquity. Allegedly, he won nearly every competition in which he was a contestant, and even in those he didn't win, came in among the top choices.

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"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
-Alexander Pope


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Re: City Dionysia

Post  Linda on Mon Mar 10, 2014 5:30 pm

Perhaps besides the point, but a modern girl like myself have no festival to go to, but I pour a glass of wine and toast to the god.  Smile 
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Re: City Dionysia

Post  AgathonZante on Mon Mar 10, 2014 9:49 pm

So how could a Hellenist today celebrate this time?
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Re: City Dionysia

Post  Erodius on Mon Mar 10, 2014 10:10 pm

AgathonZante wrote:So how could a Hellenist today celebrate this time?

The City Dionysia was a public-sphere theatrical festival of the locality of Athens; there are classical drama performances in Attica today at this time, but it was and is, primarily a public, rather than a personal/private religious festival. As far as our modern sensibilities go, the City Dionysia was more a sacred festival, by which I mean that it was a festival in the name of a deity, rather than a religious festival, which we would associate with a festival focused mainly on worship and religious ceremonies, which the City Dionysia really was not.

The Winter/Rural Dionysia [called in Latin 'Brumalia'] and the spring Ἀνθεστήρια [Latin: Liberalia] are more connotatively 'religious' bacchanaliae.

However, you can (and certainly ought to, regardless  Wink ) take an initiative to familiarize yourself with the plays of classic dramatists, especially Sophocles. On one hand, many (if not most) of these dramas were performed at the City Dionysia, and on the other, there is never a bad time to read the foundational works of western drama.

_________________
"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
-Alexander Pope


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The Orphic Way: www.hellenicgods.org
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Re: City Dionysia

Post  AgathonZante on Mon Mar 10, 2014 10:55 pm

Wondeful, I have a copy of Sophocles' works.  Very Happy 
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