The Cult of Dionysus in Classicl Athens

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Classical Athens was a time of great superstition, participation of cult activities, and interesting ideas. From Eleusinian mysteries to the Panathenaea, classical Athens was sprouting in festivals and cultic worship. The cult of Dionysus at Athens was no exception. Dionysus was the god of wine, theater and rebirth among other things. Some people, scholars and non-scholars alike, believe him to be the last of the Olympian gods, though he is mentioned in Linear B with other Olympic deities. He received state cult, and evidence of his worship and importance to Greek society and religion was prominent throughout all of classical Athens. Dionysus was significant and the classical Greek world through his many festivals and traditions. Through festivals like the Anthesteria in the Eleusinian mysteries, and his importance with theater, in the form of the Rural (lesser) Dionysia, the City (greater) Dionysia, and the Lenaea, make him one of the most important gods in classical Athens.
One of the most central aspects of the god Dionysus was his importance in theater. He had three distinguished festivals dedicated to theater: the Lenaia and the lesser and greater Dionysia. In order to understand these festivals, one must first understand the meaning of theater and how it relates to Dionysus throughout Athenian history, and in classical Athens. Many items used in Athenian theater were, from an early origin, directly and religiously related to Dionysus, such as costumes and masks. Plays were in a way a form of worship of the god of theater, and Athenians did so through dance and music, and also through things like miracle plays. Dionysus was sometimes even thought to be present during the plays that honored him, a concept that was popular...

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..."The Journal of Hellenic Studies , 107 (1987): 58.
H.W. Parke, Festivals of the Athenians, (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1977), 125.
Ibid., 126.
Ibid., 127.
Scholars have noted Classical and Hellenistic differences in this procession, as the ephebes lead the procession in the latter.
H.W. Parke, Festivals of the Athenians, (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1977), 127.
Ibid., 127-128.
Ibid., 128.
Ibid., 129.
Ibid., 128.
Martin Revermann, "The Competence of Theatre Audiences in Fifth- and Fourth-Century Athens," The Journal of Hellenic Studies, 126 (2006): 99-124.
H.W. Parke, Festivals of the Athenians, (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1977), 128.
Simon Goldhill, "The Great Dionysia and Civic Ideology,"The Journal of Hellenic Studies , 107 (1987): 60.
Ibid., 60-61.

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