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Clement of Alexandria - Protrepticus - Describes the Dionysian mysteries

Identifier

013280

Type of spiritual experience

Background

On the one hand appearing to condemn, this is actually an invaluable record of what actually did take place in the Mysteries and may be a last ditch attempt to get it recorded.

A description of the experience

Clement of Alexandria – Protrepticus (Exhortation)

The mysteries of Dionysus are wholly inhuman; for while still a child, and the Curetes danced around [his cradle] clashing their weapons, and the Titans having come upon them by stealth, and having beguiled him with childish toys, these very Titans tore him limb from limb when but a child, as the bard of this mystery, the Thracian Orpheus, says:

"Cone, and spinning−top, and limb−moving rattles, And fair golden apples from the clear−toned Hesperides."

And the useless symbols of this mystic rite it will not be useless to exhibit for condemnation. These are dice, ball, hoop, apples, top, looking−glass, tuft of wool.

Athene (Minerva), to resume our account, having abstracted the heart of Dionysus, was called Pallas, from the vibrating of the heart; and the Titans who had torn him limb from limb, setting a caldron on a tripod, and throwing into it the members of Dionysus, first boiled them down, and then fixing them on spits, "held them over the fire." But Zeus having appeared, since he was a god, having speedily perceived the savour of the pieces of flesh that were being cooked, that savour which your gods agree to have assigned to them as their perquisite, assails the Titans with his thunderbolt, and consigns the members of Dionysus to his son Apollo to be interred.

The source of the experience

Clement of Alexandria

Concepts and Symbols used in the text or image

Activities