The Thracian Dionysus
The theonym is a code of the most powerful religion in Southeastern Europe – the Dionysism. The core of the latter was formed by the faith in dying and reborn male god who in Hellas was mainly the patron of the natural vegetation circle and in Thrace of the eternal transition Life – Death – the Beyond. Thracian Dionysus is the mixed Old Greek name of the reincarnations of the Son of the Great Mother Goddess who was born by her through self-conception and entered into holy marriage with her in order to ensure the new birth both of the Cosmos and of the Socium. Therefore, he was the leader to immortality, which the Thracian Orphic believers saw as an act of merging the energy in the Beyond. He was also worshipped by all the Thracians who were not initiated into this doctrine, as the Saviour from Suffering. Being the main god of oral Orphism on its two socio-doctrinal levels, Thracian Dionysus was the typical “God in” of the believer who takes possession of his follower during the rite and parts from him after purifying him. The purification was due to the deep belief that the Son endures his own sacrifice in the image of a bull, a ram or a he-goat and in his death he joined together with his Mother-Goddess through the blood, soaked into the earth to be born again and to give life to Everything. These rites in Thrace were devoted to Zagreus and/or to Sabazius who were the two main names of Dionysus to the north of Hellas and represented the reincarnations of the God in Fire (Zagreus) and Sun (Sabazius). Hidden into his zoomorphic images, Thracian Dionysus led the Orphic bacchantes in Hellas, Macedonia and, first and foremost, in Thrace to perform his own sacrifice, bearing him “in themselves” in their capacity of priestesses of the Great mother Goddess. There are relics from there rites still preserved in the Balkan folklore.
Therefore, Old Greek Dionysus, in his classical anthropomorphous image, was deeply honoured during the whole Antiquity. Traces of the faith in him have been preserved in some masks performances. The cries of the Bacchantes can still be heard in the tragedy of Euripide, bearing the same name.
Prof. Aleksander Fol
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