After Die Geburt der Tragödie: the Myth of Dionysus Zagreus in Italy and Russia in the early Twentieth Century

Susanna Sitzia

Abstract


The purpose of this paper is to shed light on the orphic quality of Italian and Russian poetry in the early twentieth century, examining the rewritings of the myth of Dionysus Zagreus in Maia (1903) by Gabriele d’Annunzio, Canti Orfici (1914) by Dino Campana, and Cor Ardens (1912) by Vjačeslav Ivánov. The reception of this myth has been clearly influenced by Nietzsche’s Aesthetics. The relevance of Zagreus in Die Geburt der Tragödie contributes to the myth’s renewal; moreover, Nietzsche’s interpretation of the tragic hero encourages the revitalization of the ancient orphic tradition, since the dismemberment of Dionysus is the most important myth of Orphism. The allusions to orphic myths are often cryptic, but the selection of the same motifs facilitates the recognition of the myths lyrically transposed in Russian and Italian texts, which can serve to lighten one other. Ivánov, d’Annunzio, and Campana strive to establish a strong relationship between their works and Orphism, a choice discernible from paratextual references to the orphic tradition. This essay investigates the orphic substratum of their poetry, considering both enigmatic and unequivocal allusions to figures, motifs, and symbols of orphic mythology as the role of Titans, the heart of Zagreus, the mirror. The poetic use of orphic myths and concepts and the quotations of the orphic hymnography reveal that an orphic inspiration joins the different poetics of d’Annunzio, Campana, and Ivánov.


Keywords


Italian Poetry; Russian Poetry; Greek Mythology; Orphism; Nietzsche’s Aesthetic

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13125/2039-6597/271

NBN: http://nbn.depositolegale.it/urn%3Anbn%3Ait%3Aunica-17529

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