Originally Posted by odysseusm
Well, the time to ponder is done.
It isn't D. Dionysius the Areopagite was an early convert of Paul (Acts 17:34). A 5th or 6th century Syrian writer attributed his various tracts to that early figure -- commonly done in those days. So whether real or pseudo-, these Christians would not have had a "pagan" patron god.
It isn't E. The thrice-great Hermes Trismegistus, a shadowy figure of antiquity, had many mystical tracts attributed to him. His origins are linked to Hermes (not Dionysius) and the Egyptian god Thoth.
I don't think it is B, Alexander. Legends linked him to Zeus (immortal father, miraculous birth... requisite for a hero).
A, Plotinus? Kind of mystical in his Neoplatonism. But he doesn't seem to have had a Dionysian lifestyle.
I'm gonna say F, Byron. He was a Hellenophile and would have loved to identify with the rakish Dionysius. Don't know about the 'mystical crackpot' for him, though...
No, he wasn't. Lord Byron was a Romantic--and considered as too idealistic and therefore useless to his political party, but he was a party animal
and a Hellenophile to the extreme of dying for Greece. Still, he wasn't a mystical crackpot by a longshot.
This is a toughie, as Plotinus, as one critic wisecracked "Turned Plato into a kind of hippie mysticism. " But he wasn't the one.
Remember that nearly all kings, egomaniacs and would be world conquerors had a habit of tracing their lineage to Zeus. However, Zeus had many children, thus Julius Caesar traced his family to him via Venus. And besides being a great general he was a sober fellow and a mature statesman compared to the raging, brilliant and inebriated lunatic-- the never defeated--god-king, Alexander the Great!
Remember that gods had all sorts of attributes, Apollo not only cured plagues, he also caused them. Likewise Dionysus had an older and darker side than merely the patron of theater, wine, orgies and vegetation.
Here we go: " A Dionysus-like god was a popular cult deity among the Thracians and Paeonians, who called him Dryalus. The cult of Dionysus was also popular among the Macedonians. One of the best known, almost emblematic, mosaics from Pella shows Dionysus riding a leopard. Alexander the Great offered sacrifices to Dionysus in temples he dedicated to the god in the cities he founded during his campaign. Indeed, Alexander is alleged by a Roman historian to have sacrificed to Dionysus at the Oracle of Dionysus of the Satrians in Thrace before undertaking his campaign to conquer Persia. "
Naturally he also identified himself with Hercules, and historians still argue whether his supposed identification with Achilles was not made up after his death--but Dionysus was one of his patron gods-if not THE patron god.
Mommy (The formidable Olympias) was--um--quite fond of his rites.
The "Alexander wasn't such a nice guy camp." includes Victor Davis Hanson who in Carnage and Culture
points out that after his victory at Gaugamela when he destroyed The Persian Army he introduced decimation and crucifixion against his reluctant troops (They didn't want to climb the Himalayas) had a habit of murdering close associates, sometimes while drunk, sometimes not and--declared himself a god!
Perhaps Dionysus was the bringer of divine madness?
The Spartans response to this back home was humorous and typically terse: " If Alexander wants to be a god, let him be a god. "
Hansen describes him as a mystical crackpot and compares him to, of all people, Adolf Hitler (!) Fortunately (?) for Alexander he died young in Babylon after a bout of malaria and booze, still undefeated champ---
Anyone interested in Alexander's devotion to Dionysus may Google away, or read Will Durant and company.
We know Alexander's virtues, a brilliant general, perhaps the most brilliant of all; ruthless, determined and above all, incredibly brave.
But when one declares oneself a god and starts killing one's troops in fits of pique--Well, no one said Dionysus could be kept in check.
There is a sequel: Centuries later Napoleon lamented that Alexander had declared himself a god--
(And no one shut him up in a madhouse--they were wise to say nothing, or seemingly nothing like The Spartans, or perhaps--They even believed him!)
---But that if he
were to declare himself a god, every fishwife in France would laugh at him.