52. Τριετηρικοῦ, θυμίαμα ἀρώματα.
To the Triennial Festival of Bacchos
Divine medium: aromatics
Κικλήσκω σε, μάκαρ, πολυώνυμε, μανικέ, Βακχεῦ,
I call the blessed, many-named, manic Bacchos,
ταυρόκερως, ληναῖε, πυρίσπορε, Νύσιε, λυσεῦ,
Bull-horned God of the wine-press, fire-seeded Nysian, released and then
μηροτρεφής, λικνῖτα, πυριπόλε καὶ τελετάρχα,
Thigh-nurtured, cradle assaulted with fire, origin of holy rites,
νυκτέρι', Εὐβουλεῦ, μιτρηφόρε, θυρσοτινάκτα,
Night-loving Good Counselor, mitra-wearing, thyrsos-shaking,
ὄργιον ἄρρητον, τριφυές, κρύφιον Διὸς ἔρνος,
Mysterious, unspoken, tri-natured, hidden, Dios’ sprout,
πρωτόγον', Ἠρικεπαῖε, θεῶν πάτερ ἠδὲ καὶ υἱέ,
Firstborn rent limb from limb, divine father and son,
ὠμάδιε, σκηπτοῦχε, χοροιμανές, ἁγέτα κώμων,
Fledgling scepter-bearer, frolicking leader of the manic chorus,
βακχεύων ἁγίας τριετηρίδας ἀμφὶ γαληνάς,
Bacchian of the holy tri-annual surrounding peace,
ῥηξίχθων, πυριφεγγές, ἐπάφριε, κοῦρε διμάτωρ,
Earth-render, fire-lit passionate son of two mothers,
οὐρεσιφοῖτα, κερώς, νεβριδοστόλε, ἀμφιέτηρε,
Mountain-roamer, horned and fawnskin-robed the yearlong,
Παιὰν χρυσεγχής, ὑποκόλπιε, βοτρυόκοσμε,
All-heralded golden spear ‘neath folds of grape-clusters,
Βάσσαρε, κισσοχαρής, πολυπάρθενε καὶ διάκοσμε
Delighting in the world of fox- and ivy-clad maidens,
ἐλθέ, μάκαρ, μύσταισι βρύων κεχαρημένος αἰεί.
Come, blessed mystae, brimful, with eternal rejoicing.
Bacchos (Βάκχος) is another name for Dionysos, the immortal God of wine and its effects.
In the classic sense, “manic (μανικέ)” means to serve as a medium of the divine. Dionysos’ followers become one with the God of wine, singing, dancing, and losing inhibitions.
Diodorus of Sicily reports that “in many Greek cities every other year Bacchic bands of women gather, and it is lawful for the maidens to carry the thyrsus and to join in the frenzied revelry, crying out ‘Euai!’ and honouring the [G]od; while the matrons, forming in groups, offer sacrifices to the [G]od and celebrate his mysteries and, in general, extol with hymns the presence of Dionysus, in this manner acting the part of the Maenads who, as history records, were of old the companions of the [G]od.”
Diodorus of Sicily says that in Dionysos’ “campaigns he led about with himself a multitude of women who were armed with lances which were shaped like thyrsus.”
The thyrsus is an ivy-twined staff.
In his description of the rites of Dionysos, Nonnos includes the detail that the thyrsus was tipped with an iron-spike:
“Mystis [Μύστις]…taught…the mystic rites of Dionysos in the night…she first shook the rattle, and clanged the swinging cymbals with the resounding double bronze; she first kindled the nightdancing torch to a flame, and cried Euion to…Dionysos; she first plucked the curving growth of ivy-clusters, and tied her flowing hair with a wreath of vine; she alone entwined the thyrsus with purple ivy, and wedged on the top of the clusters an iron spike, covered with leaves that it might not scratch Bacchos.”
“Bull-horned (ταυροκερως)” is an epithet of Dionysos and of the Moon (Μήνη, Σελήνη, Ἰώ).
Bacchos is “fire-seeded (πυρίσπορε)” because his mother, Semele, was incinerated by Zeus’ lightning while pregnant. Zeus sewed the fetal Dionysos into his thigh (μηρός) to complete gestation. This unusual legend may be explained by the knowledge that meer- (μηρ-), in addition to meaning “thigh,” also means “twine/cord.” Zeus’ thigh may metaphorically refer to grape vines twining around upright supports. Dionysos’ birth by fire may represent the slash-and-burn method of agriculture.
Bacchos’ may be called the “fire-lit” son of two mothers because both Semele and Zeus gestated his fetus.
Nysia is the name of several mountains sacred to Dionysos/Bacchos. Nyssa (νύσσᾰ) means “turning-point,” “starting point,” or “finishing-point,” consistent with Bacchos as a God of transitions and his transformative effect in producing enthusiasm (ἐνθουσιασμός) and ecstasy (ἔκστᾰσις).
A mitra is either a type of girdle worn in battle or a ceremonial head-dress worn as a badge of rank and by the victor at the games. Diodorus of Sicily (4.4.4) says that the mitra was originally worn to ward off headaches from drinking too much wine.
Dionysos may be “tri-natured (τριφυές)” because he is:
1) the earth-born son of Persephone as Sabazios/Zagreus (Σαβαζιος/ Ζαγρευς);
2) the fire-born son of Semele as Dionysos/Bromios (Βρομιος); and
3) the air-born son of Aura (Αυρα, Αυρη) as Iacchos (Ιακχος).
Iacchos is the torch-bearing God of the Eleusinian Mysteries of Demeter.
Nonnos speaks directly to the tri-nature of Dionysos:
“They honoured him as a [G]od…after the son of Persephoneia, and after Semele’s son; they established sacrifices for Dionysos late born and Dionysos first born, and third they chanted a new hymn for Iacchos. In these three celebrations the Athenians held high revel…the Athenians beat the step in honour of Zagreus and Bromios and Iacchos all together.”
The tri-annual surrounding peace (ἀμφὶ γαληνάς) refers to the cease-fires that were declared during the triennial festivals of Dionysos.
The images in this hymn are consistent with what is known about the wild revels of the followers of Dionysos.
THE ANACREONTEA 117
On a Banquet
Let us, comrades, cheerily drink wine,
And with choral chant the [G]od divine
Praise who first us mortals taught to dance,
Him who will the joys of love enhance.
And more yielding makes the tender fair:
Him who nerves the youth in love to dare.
Loved of Cypris, sire of tipsy mirth,
'Tis to him the Graces owe their birth:
He brings solace to the eyes that weep,
Through his power is sorrow lulled asleep.
When to us fair youths brimmed beakers bear
Black care flies upon the wind-stirred air.
Let us drink the goblet's rosy freight.
Careless of inevitable fate.
What avails to brood and pine o'er sorrow?
Life is frail, we know not of the morrow. https://archive.org/stream/anacreonteaprinc00anacuoft/anacreonteaprinc00anacuoft_djvu.txt
 Diodorus of Sicily, The Libarary of History 4.2.3, Loeb Classical Library, Harvard University Press, translation C.H. Oldfather, 1935.
 Diodorus 4.4.3-4.
 Nonnos, Dionysiaca 9.115, Loeb, trans. Rouse.
Note: Mystis (Μύστις) is the title of a play by Philemon (Φιλήμων).
 Nonnos, Dionysiaca 48.950-960.
 Nonnos Dionysiaca 48.960, trans. W.H.D. Rouse. Loeb Classical Library, Harvard University Press, 1940.