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Disrespecting Dionysus: 3 maccabees as narrative satire of the God of Wine

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Chapter Summary

Interpreters of 3 Maccabees, admittedly a relatively small group, have failed to observe that Philopator?s three attempts to exterminate the Jews were each thwarted by common, but pathological side effects of excessive indulgence in wine: sleep, memory loss, and rage. Author identifies the aims of 3 Maccabees as fourfold: hortatory, apologetic, polemical, and etiological. To these he has added a fifth: satirical. People in antiquity knew that intoxication led to a variety of psychological and physical effects. But for a satirical interpretation of 3 Maccabees to be compelling, this chapter shows that (1) the cult of Dionysus was thoroughly associated with wine; (2) the cult was practiced in Egypt, so as to be part of readers? experience, or at least their cultural memory; (3) there are sufficient indications in 3 Maccabees of Dionysian cult and its excesses; and (4) drunkenness was associated in antiquity with sleep, memory loss, and rage.

Keywords: 3 Maccabees; cultural memory; Dionysian cult; drunkenness; Egypt; God of wine; intoxication; Jews; memory loss

10.1163/ej.9789004167476.i-504.7
/content/books/10.1163/ej.9789004167476.i-504.7
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