Island of Kos,Dodecaneses,Greece……
FEATURED IN FUJI FINE GROUP 21-02-10
FEATURED IN PAGAN WAYS 27-02-10
Situated at small distance from the Agora and the port of the ancient city of Kos, the Altar of Dionysus is a good example of a Π-shaped altar of the Hellenistic period. The part preserved is dated in the 2nd century b.C., a period of flourishing for Kos, as it is evidenced by numerous architectural remains. It is thought that the altar was sponsored by the king of Pergamos, an ally city of Kos. The monument was destroyed during the strong earthquake of 142 b.C. After the earthquake the residents of the area started gradually to restore it.
Later on, during the Byzantine period, the altar had been abandoned and when the Knights of the Order of St. John conquered the island, they used some architectural parts for the construction of the castle.
The Graeco-Roman name Dionysius, deriving from the name of the Thracian god Dionysus, was exceedingly common, and many ancient people, famous and otherwise, bore it. It remains a common name today in the form Dennis (Denys, Denis, Denise). The modern Greek form of the name is Dionysios or Dionysis.
In classical mythology, Dionysus or Dionysos (Greek Διόνυσος or Διώνυσος; IPA: /ˌdaɪəˈnaɪsəs/), is the god of wine, the inspirer of ritual madness and ecstasy, and a major figure of Greek mythology, and one of the twelve Olympians, among whom Greek mythology treated Dionysus as a late arrival. The geographical origins of his cult were unknown to the classical Greeks, but almost all myths depicted him as having “foreign” origins: typical of the god of the epiphany, “the god that comes”.
He was also known as Bacchus and the frenzy he induces, bakkheia. He is the patron deity of agriculture and the theatre. He was also known as the Liberator (Eleutherios), freeing one from one’s normal self, by madness, ecstasy, or wine.[The divine mission of Dionysus was to mingle the music of the aulos and to bring an end to care and worry.Scholars have discussed Dionysus’ relationship to the “cult of the souls” and his ability to preside over communication between the living and the dead.
In Greek mythology, Dionysus is made to be a son of Zeus and Semele; other versions of the myth contend that he is a son of Zeus and Persephone. He is described as being womanly or “man-womanish”.
The name Dionysos is of uncertain significance; its
nysos element may well be non-Greek in origin, but its dio element has been associated since antiquity with Zeus (genitive Dios). Nysa, for Greek writers, is either the nymph who nursed him, or the mountain where he was attended by several nymphs (the Nysiads), who fed him and made him immortal as directed by Hermes.
The frieze of the altar is dated back to the end of the 2nd century b.C. and now it is housed in the castle. It presents scenes from the Amazon war and a troupe of Dionysus, with maenads and satyrs.
Only a rectangular groundwork is well preserved today, along with the uphill entrance and a vertical stone wall.
At the same area there has been found an older temple in Doric style, possibly this too of Dionysus, and two rectangular constructions, possibly bases for statues. Excavations were carried out by Italian scholars, during 1930’s, but due to the following war nothing was published. Only recently the Greek professor N. Stambolidis has studied the sculptures of the altar.