Apollonian and Dionysian Man Essay

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The Apollonian and Dionysian man complete each other in the sense that these two

terms create our society. The Apollonian man was given its name from Apollo, the sun-

god. He represents light, clarity, and form. The Dionysian man was given its name from

the Greek god Dionysus. As the wine-god, he represents drunkenness and ecstasy. The

Dionysian was the primal aspect of reality, as well as raw nature, life and death, pleasure

and pain, desire, passion, sex, and aggression. It is the source of primal instincts. "The

Dionysian with its primal pleasure-experienced even in pain- is the common womb of

music and tragic myth...the Apolline is the realm of dreams and ideal forms."("The Birth of

Tragedy" Nietzsche, 1871) The
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Zeus's mother, Rhea, made

him whole again. Semele's sister, Ino, and her husband Athamas, raised Dionysus as a

girl so Hera would not recognize him. Hera was not deceived. Her rage drove Ino and

Athamas mad. Zeus ordered Hermes, the divine messenger, to transform Dionysus into a

young goat. He wanted them to bring him to Mt. Nysa where he would be secretly raised

by nymphs, the joyous female spirits of the forests and mountains.(Johnson, 20)





Dionysus spent his childhood gamboling over the mountainside, surrounded by

nature, learning the sensuous pleasures of the earth. The muses, one of his teachers,

inspired him with poetry and music. The saturs(half-men, half-goat) taught him wonders of

dance and exuberant sexuality. The sileni(part-man, part-horse),spirits of the springs and

rivers, taught him wisdom. Silenus, the intoxicated old man was Dionysus's predecessor.

He taught the young god virtue.(Johnson, 23)




Years passed, Dionysus learned many things. The grapevine can only grow in the

sun's intense heat and moisture of the spring rain. Dionysus had been born of fire and

nourished by the rains of the mountain. He understood the power of the vine perfectly, and

marked his passage from childhood by inventing the art of wine-making. This would bring

humanity so much potential joy and desperation. Dionysus now stood revealed as a god.

Wherever Dionysus went, he invited…

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