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Enter The Divine: Sympotic Performance And Religious Experience

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Chapter Summary

Modern understanding of the symposion has advanced dramatically since Von derMühll posited his symposion-thiasos through new readings that place sympotic poetry and art in their performance contexts, the ways in which the symposion can be considered a religious phenomenon and might facilitate religious experience have not been tested. This paper argues that the verbal and visual discourses of the symposion conceptualized and instantiated it as a sacred space and a Dionysian revel, and repeatedly conjured up the divine. This analysis is informed by readings of Greek poetry and art as performative, and it proceeds on the grounds that lyric poetry qua sympotic song and the paintings that confronted symposiasts on their drinking vessels were potentially constructive. Whether or not a symposion was enjoyed at a specific religious location or occasion, awareness and experience of the divine through performance - implemented through the event's orality and literacy - enhanced the communality of the drinking group.

Keywords: Dionysian; divine; drinking; Greek poetry; performance; religious experience; symposion



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