The Personae of Dionysos: Achilles, Alexander, and Christ in Nonnos' Dionysiaca Open Access

Parkinson, Christopher David (2014)

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This thesis examines the characterization of Dionysos in Nonnos' epic, the Dionysiaca. Specifically it analyzes the protean characteristics of Dionysos and how Nonnos represents him using imitations of and allusions to other classical figures from literature (particularly the Achilles of Homer's Iliad), from history (Alexander the Great), and from religion (Jesus Christ). The purpose of these comparisons is to demonstrate the tendency in Nonnos to show an overarching unity between different traditions, and how the Dionysos he writes about is a manifestation of this concept.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Chapter I: The Rebirth of Dionysos as a Homeric Hero 4

I. Introduction 4

II.A General Overview of Links between Homer and Nonnos 5

III. Invoking Homer and Introducing Dionysos 8

IV. Common Beginnings and Youths of Achilles and Dionysos 11

V. Dionysos and Ampelos 13

VI. Funeral Games 15

A. Ampelos 15

B. Staphylos 21

C. Opheltes 22

VII. Dionysos's Catalog of Armies 26

VIII. Divine Messenger: The Use of Iris 27

IX. Arming Scenes from Homer to Nonnos 28

X.The Shield of Dionysos 29

XI. Warfare in the Dionysiaca 30

XII. Lycurgus 34

XIII. Aiacos: The Hidden Connection 35

XIV. Glory, Homecoming, and Godhood 37

Chapter II: Dionysos and Alexander 40

I. Introduction 40

II. Nonnos and Alexander 40

III. Dionysos, Alexander, and Achilles 41

A. Heroic Funerals 42

B. Mentors and Nursemaids 42

C. Layers of Imitation 43

IV. The Indian War 44

A. The Primacy of the Indian Expedition 44

B. Alexander in India as an Impetus for Stories about Dionysos 46

C. The Catalog of Indians 47

D. Tactics and the Battle of the Hydaspes 48

V. Dionysos and Alexander: Generals, Conquerors, Administrators 50

A. Dionysos the General 51

B. Dionysos the Administrator 51

VI. The Divine Birth Stories of Dionysos and Alexander 53

VII. Dionysos's Cult in India 55

A. Dionysiansism: an Import or an Export? 55

B. Dionysos as an Indian God and Alexander as his Son 56

VIII. Dionysos and Alexander as Heirs Coming Home 57

A. The Odyssean Nostos 57

B. The Inheritance of Thebes 58

IX. Dionysos and Alexander as Saviors 59

A. Icarios 61

B. Staphylos 62

C. The Rejection of Pentheus and Lycurgus 63

X.The Liminality of Dionysos and Alexander: Foreign yet Native 64

Chapter III: Dionysos and Christ 68

I. Introduction 68

II. Nonnos: Christian and Pagan 69

III.A God by Any Other Name 70

IV. Established Connections between Christ and Dionysos 70

V. Heavenly Kingdoms 71

VI. The Lamb and the Bull: Love and Sacrifice 72

VII. Wine: Blood and Enthusiasm 73

VIII. Death and Rebirth 75

IX. Staphylos and Lazarus 75

X. Christ and Dionysos: Healers and Conquerors of Faith 76

XI. Conclusion: The Rebirth of the God 78

Bibliography 80

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