Monday, 10 April 2017

Maenads - Raving Ones

Gregorio Lazzarini
In Greek mythology, maenads were the female followers of Dionysus. Their name literally translates as "raving ones." Maenads were known as Bassarids in Roman mythology after the penchant of the equivalent Roman god, Bacchus, to wear a bassaris or fox-skin.

Often maenads were portrayed as inspired by Dionysus into a state of ecstatic frenzy of dancing and intoxication. During these rites, the maenads would dress in fawn skins and carry a thyrsus, a long stick wrapped in ivy or vine leaves and tipped with a pine cone. They would weave ivy-wreaths around their heads or wear a bull helmet in honor of their god, and often handle or wear snakes.
The term maenad has come to be associated with a wide variety of women, supernatural, mythological, and historical, associated with the god Dionysus and his worship. Known for maniacal dancing to the sound of loud music and crashing cymbals, in which the revelers whirled, screamed, became drunk and incited one another to greater and greater ecstasy, the goal was to achieve a high state of enthusiasm.

Celebrants’ souls were temporarily freed from their earthly bodies and were able to commune with Bacchus/Dionysus and gain a glimpse of eternity. The rite climaxed in a performance of frenzied feats of strength and madness.