Otto, Walter F.: Dionysos
Mythos und Kultus
First published in 1933, Dionysos, together with Die Götter Griechenlands ("The Homeric Gods") qualifies as one of the major works of distinguished classical philologist Walter F. Otto (1874-1958). The book is a classic of comparative religious studies; its impressive prose caused quite a stir even beyond the world of scholarship. The book´s quintessential thesis focusses on the Janus-facedness of Dionysus – a “mad” godhead, who in his epiphanies merges and holds together presence and rapture, beatitude and wildness, life and death, thus giving expression to the inherent totality of the world as experienced by humans. Walter F. Otto speaks of primal forms, revelation, confrontation, and external realities. His Dionysus really was; as the intensity of the immediate contact with the godhead, the ecstasy and awe of the cult gradually diminished , art and myth were introduced as intermediaries to speak for the human beholder. Today, contemporary science confirms the undiminished validity of this seminal interpretation. Otto´s book abounds with ideas and apropos questions. Generations of scholars have benefitted from his insights. Dionysus scholars neglecting them are doing so at their own risk.
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