My Senior Independent Study is a comparative study between the Classical Greek-era Mysteries of Dionysus, the Roman Imperial-era Cult of Dionysus, and contemporary Neopaganism. Utilizing a close reading of primary (Euripides, Plato, Livy) and secondary (Bowden, Burkert, Turcan) classical sources and the anthropological method of interview, I have isolated some of the key myths, rituals, and symbols of Dionysian cultic worship in three distinctive cultures situated in specific regions within particular spans of time. I believe that Dionysius, as one of the most popular mystery cult deities and a powerful artistic and religious force today, is a powerful archetypal figure whose myths, rituals, and symbols are relevant in many cultures regardless of the boundaries of space and time. I verify this belief through the symbolic/interpretive anthropology of Victor Turner, Clifford Geertz, and Barbara Myerhoff and the culture/tradition creation theory of Eric Hobsbawm. The overall purpose of my I.S. is to prove identify the key features of Dionysian worship in order to highlight the multiple iterations of a specific expression of religion involving a personal, ecstatic union with one's deity, an initiation based on the revelation of the "mysteries," and a deep respect for mythology, its ritual interpretation, and the symbols enacted within ritual.


Florence, Monica

Second Advisor

Frese, Pamela


Classical Studies; Sociology and Anthropology




dionysus, neopaganism, classical greece, imperial rome, turner, myerhoff, hobsbawm, invented tradition

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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