The power dynamics of sound in Dionysiac cult and myth
Lamberto, Katie Ann
MetadataShow full item record
A particular range of sounds express the presence and power of the god Dionysos. Β[varrho]óμιo[varsigma], an epithet almost exclusively applied to Dionysos, especially connotes powerful sounds from the natural world, frenetic sounds, and sounds construed as foreign. The kind of noise conveyed by the name Β[varrho]óμιo[varsigma] is created in the ecstatic worship of Dionysos, generating an aurally-defined mobile and temporary Dionysiac space that blurs boundaries and infringes upon other types of spaces. Dionysiac sound conveys the vitality associated with Dionysos and provides a mechanism for his epiphany. Accounting for Dionysos' relationship with sound allows for new readings of Bacchae and Frogs. The aural aspects of Bacchae provide a counterpoint to its rich visual imagery. Pentheus threatens to silence Dionysos and remains oblivious to the importance of sound in Dionysiac worship. When he dresses as a maenad, he assumes only the visual aspects of the cult. Pentheus' screams are incorporated into the Dionysiac soundscape before he dies, silenced forever. Aristophanes' Frogs subverts the usual relationship between Dionysos and sound in a way that emphasizes the comical stereotype of the god as weak and incompetent. In particular, both choruses present Dionysiac sound to an oblivious Dionysos. He is irritated by the frogs and enthralled by the initiates.