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Sunday, 15 August 2010

The Eleusinian Iakkhos



[The god Dionysos encounters a chorus of Eleusinian initiates in the Underworld on their way to Elysium.]

Chorus [of the shades of Eleusinian initiates in the distance] : O lakkhos! O lakkhos! O Iakkhos!

Xanthias : I have it, master, 'tis those blessed mystics, the souls of those who were initiated into the Mysteries in life, of whom he told us, sporting hereabouts. They sing the Iakkhos which Diagoras made . . .

Chorus : O Iakkhos! power excelling, here in stately temples dwelling. O Iakkhos! O lakkhos! Come to tread this verdant level, come to dance in mystic revel, come whilst round thy forehead hurtles many a wreath of fruitful myrtles, come with wild and saucy paces mingling in our joyous dance, pure and holy, which embraces all the charms of all the Kharites , when the mystic choirs advance. Come, arise, from sleep awaking, come the fiery torches shaking, O Iakkhos! O Iakkhos! Call we now the youthful god Iakkhos, call him hither without delay, him who travels amongst his Chorus, dancing along on the sacred way. O come with the joy of thy festival song, O come to the goddess, O mix with our throng untired, though the journey be never so long. O lord of the frolic and dance, lakkhos, beside me advance! For fun, and for cheapness, our dress thou hast rent, through thee we may dance to the top of our bent, reviling, and jeering, and none will resent. O lord of the frolic and dance, lakkhos, beside me advance! A sweet pretty girl I observed in the show, her robe had been torn in the scuffle, and lo, there peeped through the tatters a bosom of snow. O lord of the frolic and dance, lakkhos, beside me advance!"

Aristophanes, Frogs 316 ff

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