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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in zagreus

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

This is one in a series of posts about finding the MMP gods and goddesses in Minoan art. Find the full list of blog posts in this series here

Today we're looking for the bull-god Zagreus in Minoan art. In MMP, we consider Zagreus to be an aspect of our god Tauros Asterion. So obviously, we're going to look for images of bulls. But what kinds of images? When we go looking for Tauros Asterion in Minoan art, we seek out naturalistic/realistic images of bulls. When we're in search of the Minotaur (another aspect of Tauros Asterion), we look for shape-shifting depictions of half-man, half-bull creatures. So how do we know when we've found Zagreus?

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Meet the Minoans: Zagreus

A few weeks ago I wrote about Dionysos, one of the major gods within the Minoan pantheon. Today I’m going to explore the character of Zagreus. He is sometimes considered an aspect of Dionysos and sometimes viewed as a separate deity. The tapestry of Minoan spirituality is a complicated thing, and it’s often difficult to tease out the individual threads, but I’ll give it a go and see what we can discover about this interesting, and ancient, deity.

In his seminal work Dionysos: Archetypal Image of Indestructible Life, Karl Kerenyi identified Zagreus with the ecstatic Dionysiac festivals in which wild animals were torn limb from limb by crazed worshipers. Kerenyi connected Zagreus’ name with the Greek term for a trapper – a hunter who catches live animals rather than killing them. But the etymology of the name can also be traced back to a root meaning torn or dismembered, another thread connecting this intriguing god with those Dionysiac rites. Just to be clear: Zagreus is not the same as the Hellenic god Zeus, even though their names look somewhat alike. In their effort to create an ancient ancestry for their deities, the Greeks made Zeus the son of the Minoan goddess Rhea and said he was born on Crete, but he is a later deity and not the same as Zagreus.

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