Duality of the Divine Drinker

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They say that alcohol makes you become more of who you are. It loosens inhibitions, it gives you the “liquid courage” to act out as you will. Many people describe a “bad drunk” or “good drunk” as traits people have, and others say as long as you drink moderately you will always be a good drunk. But for the great god Dionysus… both are true.

 

Dionysus is a god of madness, perpetually on the verge between two very different personalities. Dionysus, the Greek god of wine and grapes, is shown to be a beautiful wildly attractive god. Often depicted having the horns of the bull on his head (which would later in the Medieval Dark Ages, Dionsysus’s imagery would be transferred to a demonic being, hence why the Devil has horns), Dionysus was a mercurial being.

 

There would be times when this grape god would be sweet, and he would emit an aura of complete relaxation around all those who encountered him. Then there were other times when his second personality would come down upon those near him. This second persona was full of bitterness, full of an untempered fury that could not be halted no matter what someone did. These two personas rage in this divine being equally.

 

In the world of art, it has often been noted that Western art always bears the conflict of duality, while Eastern art often shows more often a harmony or union of beings rather than duality. This duality in Western art is sometimes called the Apollo and Dionysus conflict.

 

It can be seen in almost any story. The hero is typically the Apollonian hero, someone who stands up for justice and order, while the Dionysus character is usually the villain of the story. The villain of course wants to see order put asunder, and chaos to reign.

 

This is not always the case. Sometimes the Dionysus character is the hero versus an Apollonian villain. In almost every case though, there seems to be an encroaching of chaos at the very seams of everything. As if the drunk, ladaiscal god of Dionysus is always teetering on the edge to consume everything, gulping down the great wine of life itself.

 

This encroaching chaos is something that holds true in most Western art. It probably derives much of its roots from the fact that European cultures were often bathed in wars between various nations. Whereas Asian culture often had wars as well, but typically it was within the same country of competing dynasties.

 

However it formed, it is intriguing to study the personalities of Dionysus who had once can be the most grateful being on the planet and within the same breath turn himself into a lion that eats everyone on board of a ship.

 

When you think about it, it truly makes sense why Dionysus would be the god of drunken revelry. Along with the grapes and wine, Dionysus other symbols are the bull (hence the horns often depicted on his head), serpent, tiger and ivy.

 

Even his symbols conflict with each other. Dionysus was often symbolized with the vine known for producing wine, as well as the toxic ivy plant that was barren of any kind of wine producing abilities.

 

The very nature of duality is integral to Dionysus’s mercurial, and often dangerous nature.

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