Tag Archives: Dionysus

TAXIARCHOI (C 427-415 B.C.): ANCIENT GREEK COMEDY

TaxiarchoiBalladeer’s Blog presents another examination of an ancient Greek comedy.

TAXIARCHOI (Tax Collectors) – By Eupolis. Tax Day – which April 15th USUALLY is – is the most appropriate day to examine this comedy because its premise serves as a pointed reminder of the inherent ugliness in all taxation – that the power to impose and collect taxes is, ultimately, backed up by the use of force. (If you doubt me go without paying your personal property taxes. Then we’ll discuss how much you truly “own” your home or your car.)  

In Taxiarchoi the god Dionysus is depicted joining the title military unit. Those Taxiarchoi units would periodically collect the “taxes” or – in its most honest form – “tribute” from the various regions, not only of Athens proper but of the Athenian subject states. Military units were necessary for such tasks for the reasons you would expect – attempted resistance on the part of those being taxed and/or attempted robbery by bands of thieves after the taxes had been collected.    

Sometimes a particular community might try to poor-mouth their circumstances and provide the taxiarchs with less money than had been assessed against them. In such cases the officer in charge was empowered to either seize portable property to make up the difference or to ransack the town and its vicinity to determine if the citizens were simply hiding their wealth. Continue reading

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GEORGE THOROGOOD: IF YOU DON’T START DRINKIN’ I’M GONNA LEAVE

Time for another go ’round of Balladeer’s Blog’s Give Them A Shoutout Before They’re Dead! This time it’s George Thorogood with one of his three best songs about booze, If You Don’t Start Drinkin’ I’m Gonna Leave.

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TAXIARCHOI (427-415 B.C.): ANCIENT GREEK COMEDY

TaxiarchoiBalladeer’s Blog presents another examination of an ancient Greek political satire.

TAXIARCHOI (Tax Collectors) – By Eupolis. Tax Day is the most appropriate day to examine this comedy because its premise serves as a pointed reminder of the inherent ugliness in all taxation – that the power to impose and collect taxes is, ultimately, backed up by the use of force. (If you doubt me go without paying your personal property taxes. Then we’ll discuss how much you truly “own” your home or your car.)  

In Taxiarchoi the god Dionysus is depicted joining the title military unit. Those Taxiarchoi units would periodically collect the “taxes” or – in its most honest form – “tribute” from the various regions, not only of Athens proper but of the Athenian subject states. Military units were necessary for such tasks for the reasons you would expect – attempted resistance on the part of those being taxed and/or attempted robbery by bands of thieves after the taxes had been collected.     Continue reading

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DEAD AND RESURRECTED DEITIES OF THE DISTANT PAST

Persephone and pomegranateSpring keeps trying to arrive but this bitter winter refuses to give up just yet. Our nationwide longing to be liberated from the tyrannical grip of winter made this a good time to examine some of the ancient myths about winter and the coming of spring. The celebration of those myths at this time of year plus the fact that many of those myths centered around dead and resurrected deities necessitated Christianity’s attempt to superimpose its OWN dead and resurrected deity over top of those older stories. Hence the celebration of Easter in springtime. (And it’s not just Christianity that behaved that way – other religions also would superimpose their own celebrations over top of those held in honor of the previously dominant gods in their region. I’ll cover the behavior of those other belief systems – especially Islam and the Incan faith – another time.)

Not all seasonal myths conformed to the following pattern. I’m limiting this list to the ones that did.

PERSEPHONE

Pantheon: Greek (The Romans called her Proserpine)

The Tale: Persephone was the beautiful daughter of the goddess Demeter (Ceres to the Romans). Persephone caught the eye of Hades, the god who ruled over the realm of the dead. Overcome with lust Hades (Pluto to the Romans) emerged from his subterranean domain and stole Persephone away to his realm to become his Queen.

The Savior: Demeter went searching for her daughter throughout the world, often assuming the form of a mortal woman. Her search wore on and on with no results, causing Demeter to fall more and more deeply into despair. Because she was the goddess of nature that despair manifested itself in colder weather, in the leaves falling off the trees, other vegetation dying and some animals hibernating or migrating to flee the cold.  Continue reading

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LEGENDS OF THE SPRING: A LOOK AT THOSE SEASONAL MYTHS WHICH HAVE THE SAME THEME

Persephone and pomegranateSpring keeps trying to arrive but this bitter winter refuses to give up just yet. Our nationwide longing to be liberated from the tyrannical grip of winter made this a good time to examine some of the ancient myths about winter and the coming of spring. The celebration of those myths at this time of year plus the fact that many of those myths centered around dead and resurrected deities necessitated Christianity’s attempt to superimpose its OWN dead and resurrected deity over top of those older stories. Hence the celebration of Easter in springtime. (And it’s not just Christianity that behaved that way – other religions also would superimpose their own celebrations over top of those held in honor of the previously dominant gods in their region. I’ll cover the behavior of those other belief systems – especially Islam and the Incan faith – another time.)

Not all seasonal myths conformed to the following pattern. I’m limiting this list to the ones that did.

PERSEPHONE

Pantheon: Greek (The Romans called her Proserpine)

The Tale: Persephone was the beautiful daughter of the goddess Demeter (Ceres to the Romans). Persephone caught the eye of Hades, the god who ruled over the realm of the dead. Overcome with lust Hades (Pluto to the Romans) emerged from his subterranean domain and stole Persephone away to his realm to become his Queen.

The Savior: Demeter went searching for her daughter throughout the world, often assuming the form of a mortal woman. Her search wore on and on with no results, causing Demeter to fall more and more deeply into despair. Because she was the goddess of nature that despair manifested itself in colder weather, in the leaves falling off the trees, other vegetation dying and some animals hibernating or migrating to flee the cold.  Continue reading

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ANCIENT GREEK COMEDY: LYSIPPUS

Balladeer’s Blog has examined 21 ancient Greek comedies so far in terms of their continuing relevance over 2,400 years later. This will be the third time I will focus on one of the ancient Greek comedians whose entire corpus is very, very fragmentary, touching briefly on all of their known works. For background info on ancient Greek comedy plus my previous reviews click here: https://glitternight.com/ancient-greek-comedies/ 

LYSIPPUS – This writer of Attic Old Comedy redefines the expression “fragmentary” because even less is known about his life than about shadowy figures like Susarion and Epicharmus. Lysippus came in 1st place with an unknown comedy at a Dionysia around 440 BCE. Fragmentary evidence survives from just three of his comedies out of an unknown total body of work so this will be my shortest blog post on ancient Greek comedy. 

We’ll start with my favorite random quote from Lysippus’ fragments. It displays his pride in Athens and reflects the city-state’s status as the combined New York, Rome and Tokyo of its era:  “If you have never come to Athens you are a fool. If you have come to Athens and not been captivated by her charms you are  ignorant. If you have been captivated by the charms of Athens and ever left her you are but a beast.” 

I. BACCHAE – Not to be confused with the various tragedies of the same title or the comedy by Diocles. Too little survives to tell if the play presented a comedic version of the tragic events depicted in other works titled Bacchae. The parabasis included the type of segment that would later be frequently repeated in Attic Old Comedy as Lysippus took shots at his competitors. That segment featured joking insults that break the fourth wall and Continue reading

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ANCIENT GREEK COMEDIES: DIONYSALEXANDROS (C: 430’s BCE)

For this 5th installment of my posts on Ancient Greek Comedies I’ll examine Dionysalexandros by Cratinus. For my post providing background info on ancient Greek comedies click here: https://glitternight.com/2011/09/22/at-long-last-my-ancient-greek-comedy-posts-begin/

Cratinus was one of the Big 3 in Attic Old Comedy along with Aristophanes and Eupolis, both of whom were much younger than he was. I chose Dionysalexandros as the first of his comedies to examine because it is a brilliant and, from the fragmentary evidence available on all non-Aristophanic comedies, a bold and possibly unique hybrid of Attic Old Comedy and traditional Satyr Plays.   

THE PLAY

In Dionysalexandros Cratinus pushed the envelope by Continue reading

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