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Sophie  Sophie is offline
Join Date: 10 Oct 2004
Location: moving again
Posts: 20,323
ivy or vine?

I think it is ivy. The "wine god" aspect of Dionysos is a very late reduction from what was a multi-faceted god (the reduction operated by association with the Roman Bacchus). In classical times and even late in Hellenistic times, Dionysos was better known as the god of tragic theatre, inspiration and ecstatic rites. His followers might have been drunk and drugged (probably both), but he is generally represented as a young god, sometimes mounting a leopard or a dolphin, and often wearing a crown of ivy leaves. He is carefree and full of inspiration, died and was reborn - he drank wine, loved girls, and inspired bards and dramatists: these are the aspects the Greeks wrote about the most and left us in their pottery and sculpture . Unfortunately, his late identification with the Roman god of wine, Bacchus (basically because the staid Romans had no idea what to do with such a free Greek spirit) has left its trace in popular imagination. But the wonderful Dionysos is much more than that!

A crown of ivy was given to winners of poetry and tragic theatre contests in classical times, so it is natural that Dionysos should be wearing one. Ivy is free and untamed, after all...
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