Wine, dance, frenzied rapture and theatrical performance. These are just some of the characteristics of the god Dionysus, who, in Euripides' masterpiece play of ancient Greece, "The Bacchae," arrives in the city of Thebes, determined to exact a terrible vengeance on Pentheus — the ruler of the city and representative of stern rationality and order — for having refused to recognize his ancient divinity.
Partly inspired by the play, the great German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche crafted his first major work, "The Birth of Tragedy From the Spirit of Music," arguing that the beauty of art rises not out of mere rationality, but out of the balance between Appoline and Dionysian elements.
After a working life spent producing works that overturned traditional Christian morality and challenging the haughty sense of imperial order of the 19th century, Nietzsche succumbed to mental illness in 1889 after producing his supreme masterpiece, "Thus Spoke Zarathustra." In his subsequent letters, he frequently signed himself simply as "Dionysus."