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God of Ecstasy: Sex Roles and the Madness of Dionysos

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304 pages, Paperback

Published August 1, 1988

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About the author

Arthur Evans

4 books28 followers
In 1963 Evans discovered gay life in Greenwich Village, and in 1964 became lovers with Arthur Bell (later to become a columnist for the Village Voice). In 1966 Evans was admitted to City College of New York, which accepted all his credits from Brown University. He changed his major from political science to philosophy and became active in the anti-war movement. He participated in his first sit-in on May 13, 1966, when a group of students occupied the administration building of City College in protest against the college's involvement in the Selective Service System. (A group picture of the students, including Evans, appeared the next day on the front page of The New York Times.)

In 1967, after graduating with a B.A. degree from City College, Evans was admitted into the doctoral program in philosophy at Columbia University, where he specialized in ancient Greek philosophy. He participated in many anti-war protests during these years, including the celebrated upheaval at Columbia in the spring of 1968. In the same year he also participated in the protests at the Democratic Convention in Chicago. During this time, the poetry of Allen Ginsberg had a powerful influence on the formation of his values...

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Displaying 1 - 3 of 3 reviews
Profile Image for Aonarán.
110 reviews58 followers
November 27, 2015
I read Evan's introduction to the text about a year ago and appreciated it. I have a hard time with a lot of ancient mythology *and* plays so will likely not read the actual play for a while. (Having someone passionate about the story explain why they like it was a good start).

Here's what I took away from the intro:

I don't get a lot out of theology or gods, but I do understand they can have different meanings in different times or for different people. At their best, the greco-roman gods are something like the personification of an emotional or psychological state. It would seem that Evans sees Bacchus as the personification of Ecstasy.

According to the story (spoiler alert, and it's a little fuzzy cause it's been a year) Bacchus comes to town. Some (his followers) recognized him and make their way to the woods and start a big orgy or something. Meanwhile others who do not recognize him (including the local ruler) throw him in jail. Eventually, Bacchus possesses the ruler and sends him out of town dressed as an animal. Others are also possessed and taken there. At some point those who are not his followers (including the ruler's family) see the ruler but don't see him through the costume and kill him.

At first I was like, wow, what an asshole Bacchus. He just takes control of people, makes em have sex with each other and kill each other to prove a point. But as I read more (and thought about it), I realized that Bacchus is desire. What Evan's sees in the play is that those who embrace their desires (his followers, for lack of a better word) sort through their desires, decide which ones they want to act on and which they don't and can have a healthy, fulfilling relationship to them. Those who ignore or repress their desires (those who can't recognize Bacchus) will eventually let them out in fucked up ways: killing or raping each other, for example.

At least according to the introduction, it's a celebration of those who try and fulfill their desires and a warning to those who repress theirs.

"Is a dream a lie if it don't come true, or is it something worse?"

Intro: 4.5
November 24, 2022
sad but important to remember that for centuries the philosophies and rites of queers and women are pushed into the underground and our histories are bastardized and assimilated to support the cancerous growth of patriarchy
Displaying 1 - 3 of 3 reviews

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