dionysian The dionysiac or dionysian experience is the antithesis of the apollonian, characterized by moderation, symmetry, and reason. See apollonian and bacchanal.
echo There are two major myths that tell how the acoustic phenomenon of the echo arose. According to one, Echo was originally a nymph who rejected the lusty advances of the god Pan. In her flight she was torn apart by shepherds, who have been driven into a panic by the spurned god, Pan. The second version involves the mortal Narcissus. Echo had been condemned by Hera to repeat the last utterance she heard and no more. It was in this state that Echo caught sight of the handsome Narcissus. Narcissus, a youth cold to all love, rejected the amorous advances of Echo, who could now only mimic Narcissus’ words. Stung deeply by this rebuff, she hid herself in woods and caves and pined for her love, until all that remained of the nymph was her voice. As for Narcissus, too proud in his beauty, he inevitably called down upon himself the curse of a spurned lover. Narcissus was doomed to be so captivated by his own reflection in a pool that he could not turn away his gaze, even to take food and drink. He wasted away and died. From the spot where he died sprang the narcissus flower. Narcissism has come to mean an obsessive love of oneself. As used in psychoanalysis, it is an
arrested development at an infantile stage characterized by erotic attachment to oneself. One so afflicted with such narcissistic characteristics is a narcissist. See panic and narcissism.
Electra complex Comparable to the Oedipus complex in the development of the female is the Electra complex, a psychotic attachment to the father and hostility toward the mother, a designation also drawn from myth. Electra was the daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra, a young woman obsessed by her grief over the murder of her beloved father and tormented by
unrelenting hatred for her mother who killed him. See Oedipus.
Elysian Fields/elysian/Elysium In Vergil’s conception of the Underworld there is a place in the realm of Hades reserved for mortals who, through their surpassing deeds and virtuous life, have won a blessed afterlife. It is named the Elysian Fields or Elysium, and the souls who inhabit this paradise live a purer, more carefree, and pleasant existence. The adjective elysian has come to mean blissful.
enthusiasm In cultic ritual, particularly Dionysiac,the initiate was often thought to become possessed by the god and transported to a state of ecstatic union with the divine. The Greeks described a person so exalted as being entheos (“filled with the god”), which gave rise to the verb enthousiazein. Thus the English word enthusiasm, meaning an excited interest, passion, or zeal. See bacchanal.
erotic/erotica/eratomania To the Greeks, Eros was one of the first generation of divinities born from Chaos; he was also said to be the son of Aphrodite and Ares. From the Greek adjective eroticos, we derive erotic, which describes anyone or anything characterized by the amatory or sexual passions. Erotica is a branch of literature or art whose main function is the arousal of sexual desire. Eratomania is an obsessive desire for sex. See cupidity.
eristic Eris was the goddess of “strife” or “discord,” responsible for all the dissension arising from the Apple of Discord, which she threw among the guests at the wedding banquet of Peleus and Thetis. Thus is derived the term eristic, which as an adjective means pertaining to argument or dispute; as a noun it refers to rhetoric or the art of debate. See Apple of Discord.
Europe Europa was the daughter of Agenor, king of Tyre in Phoenicia. Zeus, disguised as a white bull, enticed the girl to sit on his back and then rushed into the sea and made his way toward Greece. When they reached Crete, Zeus seduced Europa, who bore a son named Minos and gave her name to a foreign continent. The word Europe may be of Semitic origin, meaning “land of the setting sun.”