Documents for the Study of the Gospels

By David R. Cartlidge; David L. Dungan | Go to book overview

The Wine Miracle of Dionysos

Introduction: The author of this excerpt was a Greek geographer and traveler who lived during the second century A.D. He composed a lengthy account of his homeland, including especially religious sites, customs, and practices. In describing the province of Elis, he tells of an annual miracle that occurred there in a temple dedicated to Dionysos.


Pausanius, Description of Greece 6.26. 1f.

There is an old theater and shrine of Dionysos between the market place and the Menius. The statue of the God is the work of Praxiteles. Of the Gods, the Eleans worship especially Dionysos; indeed they say their God invades the Thyia1 during the annual feast … The priests carry three kettles into the building and set them down empty, when the town citizens and strangers, if they happen to be there, are present. The priests, and any others who wish, put a seal on the doors of the building. In the morning they come to read the signs and when they go into the building they find the kettles filled with wine. These things most trustworthy men of Elis, and strangers with them, swear to have happened. This is by word of mouth; I myself did not arrive at festival time. The Andrians also say that every other year, at the Feast of Dionysos, wine flows of its own accord from the temple. If it is fitting that such things should be believed by Greeks, then one ought to accept, by the same reasoning, what the Ethiopians around Syene2 say about the Table of the Sun.3

1. A temple to Dionysos.

2. Aswan.

3. Pausanius does not indicate what miraculous occurrences are meant.

-164-

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