The Origins and Ancient History of Wine

By Patrick E. McGovern; Stuart J. Fleming et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 15

“Canaanite Jars” and the Late Bronze Age Aegeo-Levantine Wine Trade

Albert Leonard Jr.


1.

Introduction 1

Outside the royal palace of Kadmean Thebes, a figure speaks:

I…am Dionysos, son of the king of gods,
I have come a long way. From Lydia and Phrygia,
The lands of the golden rivers,
Across the sun-baked steppes of Persia,
Through the cities of Bactria,
Smiling Arabia, and all the Anatolian coast,
Where the salt seas beat on turreted strongholds
Of Greek and Türk. I have set them all dancing;
They have learned to worship me
And know me for what I am:
A god.
And now,
I have come to Greece…

Euripides, The Bacchae lines 14-21 (Curry 1981:118-19)

Although there has always been some confusion over the details of the true origins of “thrice-born” Dionysos, many have assumed that both he and his cult originated somewhere in the Levant and subsequently spread from east to west throughout the Mediterranean World (Graves 1988:103-11; Stanislawski 1970, 1975; Hyams 1965; Otto 1965). This concept was vividly depicted by the potter Exekias about the middle of the 6th century B.C. on the interior of a drinking cup (Fig. 15.1) depicting the god reclining in a ship whose mast has sprouted vines and clusters of grapes,

-233-

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