I think the connections can be made: Sweeney to Dionysus to Agamemnon to
animals, fruit, other images to ritual, etc. Here are some random notes on various
references in your post and/or in the poem. Some of these I knew already, some
I had to look up to verify, some I found while looking:
Dionysus is described as "perceived as both man and animal, male and
effeminate, young and old, he is the most versatile and elusive of all Greek
gods." He and his maenads are often depicted "tear[ing] apart live animals
with their bare hands...and eat[ing] them raw." (The Oxford Classical
Dictionary, 479-80)--a very good source for material on D. and A. by the way.
Another name for Dionysus is Zagreus which can be translated as "a hunter
who catches living animals"--see Carl Karenyi's book Dionysus pages 81-3
for this quotation and the text in general for materials on D., the god, the cult,
the archeology and iconography, among other things. (Helpful with the odd
attributions of animal details with Sweeney's physiognomy?)
Both Dionysus and Agamemnon are violently undone by others in their
"households"--D. is torn apart by Titans before he is reborn; A. is murdered
by his wife, Clytemnestra, and her lover. Both D. and A. have associations
with Mycenae--A. is the king of Mycenae; D. is a member of the specific
group of gods worshipped in that area. Both figures have cults associated with
them--D. we all know about; A. is less well known, but several sites are
associated with his worship (cults at Laconia, Tarentum, Clazomenae, and
Chaeronea). (Again, see Oxford Classical Dictionary, under the entry for A., pp.34-5).
Hot house grapes signal to me a dedication to the grape that could be read as
devotion to the god, or at least it is the most complete way to put grapes
under human control, again, perhaps signaling an extensive relationship with
the fruit...at least?
Two women "suspect" and "thought to be in league" could be read as maenads;
the cult of D. and its participants were looked upon a bit suspiciously due to
the wildness of the rites among other things, and the myth details that the maenads would destroy
any who opposed the god. The drunkenness of the one, and the violent frenzy of the other represent
chief characteristics of the god, myth, cult, and attendant figures.
I'll spare you the connection of D. with Christ, but would point out the Sacred Heart
is a specific sect, cult or set of beliefs in Catholicism that emphasizes extensive
devotion to and recognition of the love embodied in the heart of Christ--one should
cultivate that heart through devotion, reparations made before an image of the
Sacred Heart, and a focus on the Eucharist as the culmination of Christ's love:
in short, a sect of devotees not unlike the Dioysians--a devotional focus, an
emphasis on ecstatic or "passionate" outpouring or expression, an emphasis
on wine as a sacred fluid and sacrament.
Hope at least some of this is useful; I'll let you make of it what you will. Some
of it seems a stretch or a tangent, but it seems to at least give you more to work
Temur Kobakhidze wrote:
> I wonder if "Sweeney Among the Nightingales" has any relation to Dionysus
> cult and especially, if Agamemnon is in some way or another related to it,
> besides the commonly accepted view of the remote ritual origins of Greek
> tragedy from the collective worshipping of Dionysus.
> Can the animal images of the striped zebra and the spotted giraffe, along
> with the "horny gate", Doris's "murderous paws", grapes (hothouse grapes,
> as mentioned for the second time), figs, bananas, oranges, etc. stand for
> allusions and hints to the manifestations or avatars of Dionysus?
> And in case they CAN, do these images lead to the exploration of further
> ritual complexities in the poem? Is there a solid ritual and mythical
> substructure in the poem (like the one of The WL), which calls for further
> interpretations? Is Sweeney a parodied Agamemnon,and Agamemnon a disguised
> Dionysus? And to what extent are (if only)all the females of the poem
> Menades, and the males - Satyrs? Is the whole poem a contemporary parody of
> the ancient rite of worshipping the god of fertility and wine?
> In short, is the latent meaning of this poem similar to that of "Sweeney