Dionysian Joy


It’s that time of year when sunshine and bright blue sky come to my neighborhood after months of fog (our seasons are different—high summer is just arriving). I have always loved the special light of September and October in California, both north and south, that is  full of gold and celestial expansiveness. This quality of light is also experienced in Greece. Pindar called it the pure light of high summer, hagnon phengos oporas and said it was Dionysian or perhaps Dionysos himself. According to Kerenyi, this light is a gift of Sirius, the ambivalent star, and reflects the promise of the vineyards. Certainly to the north the treasures of our multitudinous northern California vineyards are ripening. According to Hesiod the position of Orion in the middle of the sky in mid-September and the early rising of Arcturus (and closing of the reign of Sirius) signaled the beginning of the wine harvest. Even Plato mentioned the treasures of this season, namely those that can be stored, the ripening fruits—and that, which could not be stored, Dionysian joy. I’d say, sometimes they are the same.

Cupbearer at a symposium, using an oinochoe (wine jug, in his right hand) to draw wine from a krater, in order to fill a kylix (shallow cup. Attic 5th cent. BCE.

Here is a haiku (surely, He deserves haiku!) I wrote yesterday for Dionysos at beautiful China Beach:

The tall pine trees dance

wreathed in the sunbright ivy

Io Dionysos!


6 thoughts on “Dionysian Joy

  1. Pingback: Weekly roundup of interesting links « The House of Vines

  2. Nicely done!

    (Technical question: do you pronounce “Io” as a single syllable, or as disyllabic? I just wonder this in terms of parsing the last line of your haiku–either one can be correct, as far as I know…)

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