Di·​o·​ny·​sian | \ ˌdī-ə-ˈni-zhē-ən How to pronounce Dionysian (audio) , -ˈnē-, -shē-, -zē-, -sē-; -zhən, -shən \

Definition of Dionysian

1a : of or relating to Dionysius
b : of or relating to the theological writings once mistakenly attributed to Dionysius the Areopagite
2a : devoted to the worship of Dionysus
b : characteristic of Dionysus or the cult of worship of Dionysus especially : being of a frenzied or orgiastic character — compare apollonian

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Dionysus was the Greek forerunner of Bacchus. He was the inventor of wine, which he gave to the human race. For that gift and for all the wild behavior that it led to, Dionysus became immensely popular, and he appears in a great many myths. He is often shown holding a wine goblet, with his hair full of vine leaves, and attended by a band of goat-footed satyrs and wild female spirits called maenads. In the 19th century, scholars such as Nietzsche claimed that the ancient world could be understood as a continuing conflict between the attitudes represented by Apollo and Dionysus--that is, between order and disorder, between moderation and excess, between the controlled and the ecstatic.

First Known Use of Dionysian

1607, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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The first known use of Dionysian was in 1607

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Cite this Entry

“Dionysian.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Dionysian. Accessed 7 Jul. 2022.

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