A Dionysia, Part 3

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A Dionysia, Part 3 is a music video for Christoph Willibald Gluck’s Dance of the Blessed Spirits, with selections from a hymn to Dionysus from Euripedes’ The Bacchae translated by G.S. Kirk.


Gluck, Christoph Willibald. “Orfeo ed Euridice: Dance of the Blessed Spirits.” Flute Adagios. Performed by Robert Dohn and Stuttgarter Kammerorchester. Conducted by Karl Münchinger. Decca, 2009. CD.


painting by Raphael Kirchner: Greek Virgins (1900)
Raphael Kirchner. Greek Virgins. 1900.

painting by Paul Gauguin: Landscape with Peacocks (1892)
Paul Gauguin. Landscape with Peacocks. 1892.

painting by Franz Marc: The Waterfall (1912)
Franz Marc. The Waterfall. 1912.

painting by Raphael Kirchner: Greek Virgins (1900)
Raphael Kirchner. Greek Virgins. 1900.

painting by Maurice Prendergast: Blue Mountains (c.1914 - c.1915)
Maurice Prendergast. Blue Mountains. c.1914 – c.1915.


Bacchae of Euripides
G. S. Kirk
Hardback ISBN 9780521226752
Paperback ISBN 9780521296137
Copyright © 1979 Cambridge University Press

From Asian land
having passed sacred Tmolus I hasten
in sweet toil for Bromios,
in labour that is no labour, exalting
the Bacchic god.
Who is in the road, who in the road? Who
in the palace? Let him be present, and with a
mouth that utters no
impiety let each man sanctify himself.
For with the ever-accustomed words
Dionysus shall I hymn.

blessed he who in happiness
knowing the rituals of the gods
makes holy his way of life and
mingles his spirit with the sacred band,
in the mountains serving Bacchus
with reverent purifications;
and duly observing the rites
of Cybele the Great Mother
and shaking up and down the thyrsus
and with ivy crowned
he worships Dionysus.
Onward bacchants, onward bacchants,
bringing Dionysus,
Bromios, god and child of a god,
down from Phrygian mountains
into Hellas’ broad-trodden streets,
Bromios the roaring one!

O Thebes who nurtured Semele,
be crowned with ivy;
abound, abound with evergreen
fair-berried bryony,
and devote yourselves as bacchants with twigs
of oak or fir,
and cloaks of dappled fawnskin
fringe all round with white tresses
of wool; with violent thyrsus-rods
make yourselves holy! Straightway the whole
land shall dance,
whenever Bromios leads his bands
to the mountain, the mountain; where awaits
the female throng,
away from looms and from shuttles
stung to madness by Dionysus.

The ground flows with milk, flows with wine,
flows with bees’ nectar.
Like the smoke of Syrian frankincense
the Bacchic god holding high
the fiery flame of the pine torch
streams it from his rod,
with running and dances
rousing the stragglers,
swinging them on with cries of ecstasy
and tossing his luxuriant locks in the air.

Among the joyful cries he makes these
words roar out:
“O onward bacchants,
onward bacchants!
Ornamented with gold of Tmolus’ river
to the deep beat of the drums
sing and dance to Dionysus
exalting the god to whom you cry in ecstasy
amid Phrygian cries and incantations
when the holy melodious flute
sounds out its holy uplifting strains,
you on your way to the mountain, the
mountain.” Joyfully
then, as a foal with its grazing mother,
the bacchant springs around with nimble feet.