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The World UnderfootMosaics and Metaphor in the Greek Symposium$
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Hallie M. Franks

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190863166

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190863166.001.0001

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The Journey In

The Journey In

Dionysos the Traveler

3 The Journey In
The World Underfoot

Hallie M. Franks

Oxford University Press

Dionysos, the god of wine, often shown on vases alongside his retinue of revelers, is a natural subject for the decoration of the room in which the symposium is held. Greek pebble mosaics, however, place particular emphasis on the god’s identity as a traveler. Although Dionysos is Greek, he was raised on distant Mt. Nysa, from which he returned in a triumphal procession that crossed the known world. In andron mosaics, he is shown in the process of this return, mounted in a chariot drawn by panthers (Olynthos), or riding an exotic large cat (Pella, Eretria). This chapter posits that such mosaics present Dionysos as a theoros—a traveler whose exposure to the unfamiliar brings the new knowledge of viniculture to his homeland. In this way, Dionysos provides a model for the metaphorical journey of intellectual transformation that wine-drinking and conversation ideally produce in the event’s participants.

Keywords:   Dionysos, theoria, Bellerophon, thiasos, Olynthos, Pella, Eretria, maenad, chariot, journey

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