The Greco-Egyptian origins of western myths and philosophy

In Pius Mosima (ed.), Papers in Intercultural Philosophy and Transcontinental Comparative Studies. pp. 251-281 (2018)
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Every person is equipped with both the Dionysian or life force soul (in Greek Eros), and the Apollonian or death force soul (in GreekThanatos). Dionysus was a Greek fertility god from c. 580 BCE associated with wine, music, and choral dance (Csapso 2016). In Attic art, Dionysus was often depicted as a slumping god on a ship, which had a vineover laden with grapes as a mast, surrounded by a sea with a pod of dolphins; the dolphins being the rescuers of sailors (life force) (Carpenter 1990). Dionysus, who was resurrected from death, repre- sented hedonism, happiness, and the good life that he celebrated with a glass of wine. His half-brother Apollo was in many respects his polar opposite. Apollo was a cerebral god associated with the sun, light, and intellectual pursuit. Dio- nysus symbolized the ability of (wo) man to submerge him- or herself in a greater whole, the ecstatic, and the chaotic emotions. Apollo, on the contrary, symbolised his or her formally rational and reasoning mind. The Dionysian and Apollonian natural forces are complementary and one needs both to be a balanced person; one needed to be capable of creating form and struc- ture as well as being passionate and vital. Brown believed that a utopian society would primarily consist of such balanced persons who are at home in both the world of rationality and logic and of symbols and emotions.

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Louise Müller
Leiden University


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