Dionysus and Politics : Constructing Authority in the Graeco-Roman World book cover
1st Edition

Dionysus and Politics
Constructing Authority in the Graeco-Roman World

ISBN 9780367480363
Published May 31, 2021 by Routledge
232 Pages 23 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This volume presents an essential but underestimated role that Dionysus played in Greek and Roman political thought. Written by an interdisciplinary team of scholars, the volume covers the period from archaic Greece to the late Roman Empire.

The reader can observe how ideas and political themes rooted in Greek classical thought were continued, adapted and developed over the course of history. The authors (including four leading experts in the field: Cornelia Isler-Kerényi, Jean-Marie Pailler, Richard Seaford andRichard Stoneman) reconstruct the political significance of Dionysus by examining different types of evidence: historiography, poetry, coins, epigraphy, art and philosophy. They discuss the place of the god in Greek city-state politics, explore the long tradition of imitating Dionysus that ancient leaders, from Alexander the Great to the Roman emperors, manifested in various ways, and shows how the political role of Dionysus was reflected in Orphism and Neoplatonist philosophy.

Dionysus and Politics provides an excellent introduction to a fundamental feature of ancient political thought which until now has been largely neglected by mainstream academia. The book will be an invaluable resource to students and scholars interested in ancient politics and religion.

Table of Contents

List of Figures

List of Contributors

List of Abbreviations



Filip Doroszewski, Dariusz Karłowicz

Part I

Dionysus and the Polis

  1. Dionysos, the Polis and Power
  2. Cornelia Isler-Kerényi

  3. The Politics of Euripides’ Bacchae and the Preconception of Irresolveable Contradiction
  4. Richard Seaford

  5. On the Necessity of Dionysus: the Return of Hephaestus as a Tale of the God that Alone Can Solve Unresolvable Conflicts and Restore an Inconsistent Whole
  6. Dariusz Karłowicz

  7. Alexander and Dionysus
  8. Richard Stoneman

    Part II

    Dionysus in Rome

  9. Dionysos against Rome? The Bacchanalian Affair: a Matter of Power(s)
  10. Jean-Marie Pailler

  11. Augustus and the Neoi Dionysoi
  12. Fiachra Mac Góráin

  13. The State as Crater: Dionysus and Politics in Plutarch’s Lives of Crassus, Antony and Caesar
  14. Filip Doroszewski

  15. Dionysus and Legitimisation of Imperial Authority by Myth in First- and Second-Century Rome: Caligula, Domitian and Hadrian
  16. Sławomir Poloczek

  17. The Role of Bacchus/Liber Pater in the Severan Religious Policy: the Numismatic and Epigraphic Evidence
  18. Małgorzata Krawczyk

    Part III

    Late-Antique Reflection on Dionysus

  19. The Rule of Dionysus in the Light of the Orphic Theogony (Hieroi Logoi in 24 Rhapsodies)
  20. Marek Job

  21. Dionysus in the Mirror of Late Antiquity: Religion, Philosophy and Politics

David Hernández de la Fuente


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Filip Doroszewski is Assistant Professor at Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University in Warsaw, Poland. His recent publications include a co-edited volume Nonnus of Panopolis in Context III (2021) and a monograph Orgies of Words. Mystery Terminology in the Paraphrase of St. John’s Gospel by Nonnus of Panopolis (forthcoming).

Dariusz Karlowicz is a Polish philosopher and a lecturer at Warsaw University, Poland. He is also Editor-in-Chief of the philosophical magazine ‘Political Theology’. His books in English include The Archparadox of Death: Martyrdom as a Philosophical Category (2016) and Socrates and Other Saints (2017).


"Réunissant les articles de plusieurs spécialistes du dieu Dionysos, l’ouvrage constitue un point de repère important pour les futures recherches sur le rapport entre l’imaginaire bachique et la représentation du pouvoir. Le choix d’une chronologie large guide le public dans l’évolution de l’imaginaire dionysiaque et de son lien avec les processus de construction de l’autorité politique dans les mondes grec et romain. La lecture des diverses contributions permet également d’envisager d’autres pistes de recherche qui pourraient être explorées en lien avec la thématique du volume."

(Bringing together articles from several specialists of the god Dionysus, the book constitutes an important point of reference for future research on the relationship between the bacchanalian imagination and the representation of power. The choice of a broad timeline guides the audience in the evolution of the Dionysian imaginary and its link with the process of construction of political authority in the Greek and Roman worlds. Reading the various contributions also makes it possible to consider other avenues of research that could be explored in line with the theme of the volume.) - Kernos