Ritual, Myth and Tragedy: Origins of Theatre in Dionysian Rites

Nadja Berberovic


In the deep, dark forests and in the lush green valleys, worshippers of Dionysus celebrated the eternal cycles of death and rebirth, symbolized in the sacred mask of the wild god. Drunk and intoxicated, wearing the mask of Dionysus, the actor is at once the shaman and the priest. Channeling the presence of the fearsome divinity, he drinks the sacred wine and eats the raw flesh of his prey. In this eternal moment, he becomes one with the god and the beast residing inside of him. Within Ancient Greek culture, the sacred rites of Dionysus have been appropriated and transformed to theatre performances. The shaman became the actor, the participants became the audience, the sacred altar became the stage. From myth as a ritual performance emerged the theatre of tragedy, in which the undying spirit of Dionysus, majestic and terrifying, speaks to us even today.



performance shaman priest cycle rebirth deity god tragic drama acting Apollo festival sacrifice ecstasy Dionysia mask theatre mythology drama tragedy myth rite rituals Greek Classical Dionysus

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.21533/epiphany.v8i1.117


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