maenads and bacchantes


maenads and bacchantes

Female followers of the Greek wine-god Dionysus. The word maenad comes from the Greek, meaning “mad” or “demented.” During the orgiastic rites of Dionysus, maenads roamed the mountains and forests performing frenzied, ecstatic dances, and were believed to be possessed by the god. While under his influence they were supposed to have unusual strength; it was said they could tear animals or people to pieces (the fate met by Orpheus). As bacchantes they were named for Bacchus, the Roman counterpart of Dionysus.

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