It's great to be back home and back on working my blogs. I won't bore you with my musings about my trip to Omaha so let's get the show back on the road. For the viewers of my blog this story will either bring good news or bad news.
For the viewers who love all that sexual and lustful perversion that is found throughout Greek Myth, I'm sorry, but there is surprisingly none of that in this story. However, you maybe pleased that there is still a transformation in this myth (and thank the gods it isn't about people turning to plants) So it is what it is, but that won't stop me from enjoying this story.
Before we begin let us discuss about main deity in this story, Dionysus (or Bacchus for you Roman types). Here is my question about the jovial god of wine: what is the modern interpretation of this god? Well if you are any type of early Disney animation fan like me, you will know this answer.
Aw yes, good old Fantasia still great after all these years
Yep the modern perception is that Dionysus was some fat and short drunkard, but that is not the case. Here is a better and much more accurate image of what Dionysus looked like to the Ancient Greeks.
I love every single one of ya, *hic* not you
Yep the Greeks didn't see a old and portly drunkard, but a young and handsome drunkard. (A proto frat boy if you will, only with absolute power) And the particular story I'm talking about takes place during the god of wine (and theater) young adulthood.
See when Dionysus was a teenager, he was not yet an Olympian, (I'll explain this in the story of Dionysus' birth in a later entry) so he was basically a wandering god with no purpose. This was also the result of madness caused by Hera (Big surprise) after he found a way to create wine from the grapevine. Basically, he meandered all over the Earth for sometime, that is until he reached the land of Phrygia. (Located in West Central Anatolia)
It was there that he met Cybele (Either Gaia the Earth Mother or Rhea the titaness and mother of the Olympians for the Greeks and Minoans) Anyway when she saw the mad handsome youth running around barking at the sun, she cured and taught him her religious rites. (Whatever that means)
Dionysus then took it upon himself to teach people the ways of the vine. (Remember he wasn't a Olympian yet, so he wasn't a total dick yet) He traveled down to Asia and taught them how to cultivate and make wine. After several years in India he planned to return to Greece. This is where our story takes place.
I am the vine man!
Dionysus was extremely attractive and on one day he was resting on the Eastern beaches of Anatolia when a bunch of Pirates caught sight of him. In his mortal form, Dionysus looked just as handsome and princely so when these vagabonds of the sea saw him laying on the beach, they took him for a local prince.
Immediately they landed on the beach, captured the sleeping youth; hoping to get a ransom or sell him into slavery, and tried to bind him to the mast of their ship. However, they could not, for they soon discovered that the ropes would not restrain him. Mind you Dionysus was still asleep when they were doing this! (So these pirates were pretty sneaky to get a sleeping youth on their boat without waking him up)
The helmsman, Acoetes, saw this miraculous feat and immediately told his peers that this prince was no mortal and that they needed to release him or else they would face his divine wrath. The captain and crew laughed at their meekly helmsman's pleas, told him to stuff it and get back to work. (Because pirates are absolutely not superstitious folk)
Not wanting to get killed by his crew mates, Acoetes obliged and went back to the helm to sail the ship into open waters. When they got there, Dionysus finally woke up and was like "The fuck am I doing here?" and told the crew that he wished taken to the island of Naxos. The captain promised to do so, but after a while Dionysus realized that these weren't the most trustworthy of types. (Really? I guess the pirate flag didn't tip him off)
The crew and captain admitted this to the disguised god and revealed their full plans. When he told them that he was a god, they scoffed and laughed at him and told him to sit tight because it was a long trip to Asia where he was going to be sold as some sex slave for some lavish king. (Hmm bondage, I guess there was some eroticism in this tale) This turns out to be the worst mistake made by these pirates and now they made Dionysus pissed.
Okay in retrospective, maybe we should have done as he said
Not messing around Dionysus revealed his true form to the crew (Undoubtedly causing them to piss themselves) and began to unleash his wrath on these pirates. Vines began to appear from nowhere and wrap themselves across the mast and ship, making the sail completely useless. Then Dionysus turned the oars into snakes, effectively making the ship unable to move.
And on the captain's chair that was now overgrown with grapevines did the young Dionysus sit in his glory, his head crowned with grapes and he held his thyrsus (a special scepter with a pine cone on top, wrapped with vines and ivy leaves) Now that they had nowhere to run, Dionysus could finish his revenge.
So out of nowhere a bear appeared and Dionysus turned himself into a lion. (This is the point where the captain needed his brown pants) A few of the crew were killed by the bear and lion, while the rest went basically insane and jumped into the ocean, instantaneously turning into dolphins. (And thus we get the reason why dolphins make those squeals as if they are madmen)
But what of Acoetes, the meek helmsman who tried to warn his compatriots of the danger of their capture. For this he was spared and sailed the god to Naxos as he requested. Once on the island Acoetes was initiated into the Bacchic Mysteries and made a priest of Dionysus. (Yes I realized I used the Roman term for the Mystery, but I like that word better than Dionysian)
Now as we reach the end whatever happened to the Tyrrhenian (A word used by Greek authors that meant non-Greek peoples) pirates now dolphins? Well after being turned they populated and spread throughout the seas. (Don't ask maybe they had a few wenches on that pirate ship) And the location of where they jumped into the seas would be known as the Tyrrhenian Sea. (Man Dionysus must have been knocked out if he awoke from sleeping on a Turkish beach and waking up in the region of ocean between Sardina and Italy!)
So that the myth for this addition of Moments in Greek Mythology, keep reading and comment how many grammatical errors I make. Next week I hope to do the myth from the Trojan War: the story of Protesilaus and his sacrifice to the Achaean forces. Have a nice day.
PS I'm also working on a book that will basically be this blog series, oh and a video series so wish me luck if that ever goes anywhere.