Proceedings of the XXII World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 2, 2008

Ancient Philosophy

Clara Acker
Pages 227-238

Présence de Dionysos dans la Philosophie de Platon

This communication wants to deal with the relations between the Philosophy of Plato and the cult of Dionysus in Ancient Greece. This makes necessary to distinguish the cult of Dionysus with its feasts and secret rituals, especially the maenadic rites of women, from orphism. The Maenads practiced rites closely associated with mania and those rites included bloody sacrifice (sparagmos) and the consommation of raw flesh (omophagy). As we assumed in our book “Dionysos em transe: la voix des femmes”, this cult was an iniciatic feminine rite, connected to biological transformations particular to women, as pregnance and birth. At the other side, orphism is an asceptic and vegetarian sect, which clearly influenced some platonic theories, as exposed in Cratyle or Gorgias, concerning “the body as the tomb of the soul”. What we want to show here is the dionysiac character of some other theories, as those about the mania in Phaedrus or even the so called “platonic theory of Love” in the Symposium. We are dealing than with the definition of Philosophy itself in platonic dialogs: is Philosophy a study about death as orphic influence demands or is it a work of birth, as dionysiac influence suggests?