blackbirdonline journalSpring 2023  Vol. 21  No.3

Dionysiaca, Book 38: Table of Contents

At forty-eight books and 20,426 lines, Nonnus of Panopolis’s Dionysiaca is the longest surviving poem from ancient Greece. Its life story of the ecstatic wine god Dionysus, whose worship played significant religious and societal roles throughout antiquity, is also notable for its inventive episodic structure and use of dactylic hexameters that fostered new words and phrases. Book 38 describes two omens that foretell Dionysus’s victory in his conquest of India, as well as the story of Phaëthon, Helios’s son, who upends the order of the universe while trying to drive the sun god’s chariot.

Nonnus of Panopolis was a Greek poet from Hellenized Egypt who was heavily influenced by Homer and Hesiod and lived between the late fourth to mid-fifth centuries AD. This translation is excerpted with permission from Tales of Dionysus: The Dionysiaca of Nonnus of Panopolis, edited by William Levitan and Stanley Lombardo, published by the University of Michigan Press, 2022.  end

Begin with “A (Fortuitous) Omen.” A next and previous control on each poem allow you to page through the suite without returning to this menu.