The Dionysia are the festival in honor of the god Dionysus in Greek antiquity. Dionysus is the god of wine, joy, fertility, grapes, ecstasy and madness. Initially, this involved ceremonies of solemn, cultic ceremonies that were religiously shaped, and the urban Dionysia developed in Athens. From then on, these were committed annually between March and April and lasted for eight days. Cultic rituals (dance, sacrifice, singing) were practiced, which in the end were regarded as predecessors of Greek comedy and tragedy. Very characteristic of this are the so-called dithyrambs, that is, hymn-like choral songs, which were performed in honor of the god Dionysus. The urban Dionysia was characterized by a strong influence on the worship of Athena and Dionysus. The city was dominated by Peisistratos (around 600 BC – 528/527 BC), a statesman and tyrant. Dionysia is also the main contest of the comedies and tragedy poets (Agon) who showed their works during the festival.
The term Dionysia derives from the Greek noun Dionysia, which in turn derives from the name of the winery itself. Consequently, the main focus was on honoring the winery, although the festival was also celebrated in the course of time for the self-representation of the city of Athens.
Within the framework of the Dionysia, the dithyrams were brought forward, the main purpose of which was to celebrate the god with ecstasy and ecstasy, as well as to pay homage to him. It is probable that Greek tragedy and comedy evolved from the sacred songs and the dancing and sacrificial rites, which were organized in honor of the god. Especially the dithyrambus can be regarded as the forerunner of the Greek tragedy – since other epic substances were used in addition to the prices of the winery.
The contest of the dithyrams was an essential highlight of the ceremony, especially at the beginning of the festivities. Nevertheless, the comedies of the comedic poets, and above all the tragedy poets, formed the climax of the cult festival. Those who have been victorious in these competitions are still known to us today, such as Euripides, Aristophanes, and Plato. However, many works that are handed down from that time can not be assigned to a clear author (see Adespota).
Procedure and Organization of Dionysia
The term usually means the eight-day festival celebrated in Athens, between March and April. However, the term designates several festivals, which were arranged in different months in honor of the winery. One differentiates here the small or rural Dionysien in December and January, the Lenae in January and February, the Anthesterien in February and March as well as the Städtischen or also Great Dionysien in the March and April.
Thus, in honor of Dionysus, a total of four feasts were celebrated in antiquity, two of which were called Dionysia (small / rural, large / urban). The rural Dionysia and the Anthesteries were not necessarily linked to the performances of dramas, but were generally regarded as ceremonies to praise the vineyard. The Lenae, on the other hand, tended to have a local character and were mainly known for the performance of comedies. This was also due to the fact that the subject of comedy was mostly directed at regional characteristics or the politics of the day.
The Great or even Municipal Dionysia are the most important feast in the previous list. Since the orientation coincided with the annual resumption of shipping in the spring, they were open to every human being. They were aligned in Athens by the Archon Eponymos. Archon Eponymos was an office in ancient Athens, which assumed the functions of governance and the role of supreme judge. He also directed the highest church festivals, and ordered the choirs and choir leaders.
In the process, some 150 choral leaders were ordered, who were to present their dithyrambs as part of the festival, with around 1,000 people also belonging to the choirs. The organization of these festivities lasted for months and finally ended in a gigantic festival, which lasted for eight days, with the individual works which were announced at the poetical contests two days before the actual feast. This announcement is known as Proagon.
At the Proagon, the poets, choristers, singers of the choir and the actors presented themselves to the audience. A day later, on the day before the actual feast, a cultic image of the winery was fetched from the temple, which was consecrated to it, and carried to the city. This process should ensure the presence of God. The cult image was then carried back into the temple.
On the following day the actual festivals began. The first half of the festivities was dominated by parades, sacrifications and choral songs, the last days of Dionysia being centered around the poetical contest of the tragedy poets, and later the comedic poets.Winner of the competition
There is no comprehensive list available, showing a summary of the victorious poets of each Agone. However, there are occasional references to which poets were victorious in the Tragodienagon or in the agon of the comedies. In some cases, there is also a note of the works that brought the victory. Below is an incomplete overview of the winners.Short overview: The most important part of the term at a glance
As Dionysia, also Dionysia, the ceremonies in the antique in honor of the winery Dionysos are designated. There are four festivals around this god: the Small / Rural Dionysia in December and January, the Lenae in January and February and the Anthesteries in February and March, and the Great Dionysia in March and April.
What is meant by the concept of the Municipal Dionysia, which was committed in Athens, and which had been preceded, above all, by the statesman Peisistratos. Peisistratos was regarded as a worshiper of Dionysus and Athene. They lasted for a total of eight days.
This festival was accompanied by numerous rites and parades. The most important part of the festivities, however, were the various competitions held under the poets and choral conductors, the so-called Agone. Dithyrambenchöre, comedies and tragedy poets competed against each other.Sieger of the competition
There is no comprehensive list available, showing a summary of the victorious poets of each Agone. However, there are occasional references to which poets were victorious in the Tragodienagon or in the agon of the comedies. In some cases, there is also a note of the works that brought the victory. Below is an incomplete overview of the winners.