Dionysοs’ Epiphany in Performance. The God of Ecstatic Cry, Noise, Song, Music, and Choral Dance”, in: Electra 2: Dionysus: Myth, Cult, Ritual

Bierl, Anton. (2012) Dionysοs’ Epiphany in Performance. The God of Ecstatic Cry, Noise, Song, Music, and Choral Dance”, in: Electra 2: Dionysus: Myth, Cult, Ritual. Electra, 2. pp. 1-12.

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Dionysos is the emblem and personification of exuberant energy and raging performance, which, because of the lack of signification, remains enigmatic and meets with resistance. Those who do understand the ecstatic expressions can abandon themselves and merge in their worship with the god. The god of presence and epiphany can manifest himself only by his wild sign production. This is true, in particular, for drama based on multimodal performance of words, music and choral dance where Dionysos is sometimes summoned to have his epiphany through roaring noise, shrill music by auloi, violent rhythms by tympana and excited dance. We witness a strange whirl of reciprocal interaction between the frantic performance of followers and their god. In a strict reciprocal χάρις-relation his chorus attempts to please and seduce Dionysos through performative behavior suited to him while he takes pleasure in the chorus’ activity. Often he is called to take over as notional choregos, thus driving them even madder. Just as they set him in raging choral motion, so he does with them. Furthermore, we encounter a strange tendency to project the totalizing feeling onto other mythical choral groups or even onto the cosmos, the stars, onto the entire environment. Under his influence everything fuses. The entirety of nature is envisaged in frenzied motion, the sky, the earth, the land; he stands in the middle and the surrounding objects revolve around him in a circular dance. In the end, Dionysos is nothing more than the underlying substance, the abstraction of ecstatic, inarticulate signs with a lack of proposition that crystallize to strange epikleseis of the god responsible for that extraordinary experience. As a hypostasized expression of ecstatic performance, Dionysos is present for the insider, the initiates – thus his association with mysteries –, whereas for the outsider it is purely insane behavior without any aesthetic meaning.
Faculties and Departments:04 Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Departement Altertumswissenschaften > Fachbereich Gräzistik > Griechische Philologie (Bierl)
UniBasel Contributors:Bierl, Anton F.H.
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Publisher: Centre for the Study of Myth and Religion in Greek and Roman Antiquity, Department of Philology
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
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Last Modified:19 Jan 2018 15:03
Deposited On:19 Jan 2018 15:03

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