To Dionysos, God of the Liknon
Divine medium: manna
Λικνίτην Διόνυσον ἐπ’ ευχαῖς ταῖσδε κικλήσκω,
Dionysos of the liknon, upon appointed prayers I call,
Νύσιον ἀμφιθαλῆ, πεποθημένον, εὔφρονα Βάκχον,
Nysian surrounded by flourishing, ripening power, wise Bacchian,
νυμφῶν ἔρνος ἐραστὸν ἐυστεφάνου τ' Ἀφροδίτης,
Sprouting, lovely, fair-crowned nymphs of Aphrodite
ὅς ποτ' ἀνὰ δρυμοὺς κεχορευμένα βήματα πάλλες
Once rose in the woods in a circling measured dance of youth,
σὺν νύμφαις χαρίεσσιν ἐλαυνόμενος μανίηισι,
And in concert with the Grace’s nymphs drove off mania,
καὶ βουλαῖσι Διὸς πρὸς ἀγαυὴν Φερσεφόνειαν
And counselors of Dios led them to glorious Phersephone
ἀχθεὶς ἐξετράφης φίλος ἀθανάτοισι θεοῖσιν.
Who carries the load of bringing to fruition beloved humans divine.
εὔφρων ἐλθέ, μάκαρ, κεχαρισμένα δ' ἱερὰ δέξαι.
Wise one, come, blessed, gracious divine power, accept these offerings.
This hymn refers to Dionysos as Likniteen (Λικνίτην), the God of the liknon, the winnowing basket.
The liknon is a broad, scoop-shaped basket, low on one end and high on the other, which holds grain after threshing. Threshing involves beating and crushing the grain to remove the chaff. The chaff is the seed covering and lightweight stem of the plant. The threshed grain is scooped up and tossed in the air to winnow the heavier grain from the lightweight chaff, literally “release (Λι) + core (κ).” The seed falls back into the liknon basket and the chaff falls to the ground or is blown away by the wind. In some societies the threshing was accomplished by stomping on the grains and may have evolved into a ritualized threshing dance. Followers of Dionysos/Bacchos are often depicted as enthralled dancers.
Liknon baskets were also used as cradles. In this sense, the shape of the liknon resembles a child’s modern-day car seat. The Scholiast on Callimachus says, “in old days they used to put babies to sleep in winnow-baskets as an omen for wealth and fruits.”
A beautiful terra cotta plaque in the British museum, “Child in Liknon (No. 11),” depicts a male and female dancer, each holding a staff or a torch in one hand and carrying a child in a liknon basket between them.
“The liknon as cradle appears on coins of imperial date…In the coin of Nicaea…the child Dionysus is seated in or rather on a liknon; he has both hands raised; behind him is his emblem the thrysos.”
The liknon was also used as a basket for first fruits. “The liknon with firstfruits was not only brought to the altar, but also formally dedicated and set up in sanctuaries.” Ancient art depicts liknon baskets carried in wedding processions.”
“When used in the service of Dionysus, the liknon ordinarily contains not only fruits but the symbol of human life and growth, the phallos…” “On Graeco-Roman sarcophagi and on late Hellenistic reliefs…the phallos is openly paraded by worshippers both male and female in Dionysiac revels; but it is important to note that, in actual ritual scenes where a definite religious ceremony of initiation is going on, the liknon containing the phallos is always veiled, or, in instances where it has just been unveiled, the worshipper…is veiled...On a “Campana” relief…we have a scene of initiation represented with the liknon unveiled. It contains fruits and phallos. The candidate is still veiled…”
“Plutarch in his life of Alexander states that Olympias…introduced as a new element large tame serpents, and these used to creep out of the ivy and out of the mytic likna and twine round the thyrsi and garlands of the women, and frighten the men out of their senses.”
Harrison says that before Dionysos became the wine-God he “was the beer-[G]od, the [G]od of a cereal intoxicant. As the [G]od of a cereal intoxicant he needed the service of the winnowing-fan as much as it was needed by Demeter herself. When the cereal intoxicant, beer, was ousted by the grape intoxicant wine, the fan that had once been a winnower for grain became a basket for fruit….The [G]od took one of his titles, Bromios, from the cereal bromos…Another of his titles, Sabazios, he took from sabaia which is Illyrian for beer.”
Servius comments that the liknon is emblematic of Dionysos because his followers “…are purified in his mysteries as grain is purified by fans…he is called Liber, because he liberates…”
Aphrodite is the immortal Goddess of sexual passion.
Nymphs are beautiful young Goddesses who preside over a particular place in nature. In ancient Greece young girls and brides were sometimes referred to as nymphs.
The Graces/Charites are the immortal Goddesses who bestow unearned blessings.
It is not clear who “Dios” refers to, a reference to a deity.
Phersephone is Persephone, the immortal Goddess of the afterlife and new life in Spring.
 Homeric Hymn to Hermes 21.150, al., Callimachus Jov.48, Aratus Phaenomena 268, Galenus Medicus 6.37.
 Scholiast on Callimachus, Hymn i. 48, trans. Harrison.
 Jane E. Harrison, The Journal of Hellenic Studies, Vol. 23, “Mystica Vannus Iacchi,” p. 295.
 Ibid., p. 295.
 Ibid., p. 297.
 Ibid., p. 317.
 Ibid., p. 318.
 Ibid., p. 320-22.
 Ibid., p. 317. Plutarch Vit. Alex. ii.
 Ibid. p. 323.
 Ibid. Virgil Georg. i.165. Servius ad loc.