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Is There a Maenad in Town?

Is There a Maenad in Town?

Written by Dorothea (LISMlvr) for The Vault

The Vault poses the question, what is a maenad? For those of us who are not mythologists, some clarification might be helpful as it relates to the character Maryann in True Blood.

In Greek mythology, maenads were said to be nymphs who nursed the infant god, Dionysus. Dionysus is the god of fertility, associated with vine and wine. He is identified with the bull and Minotaur of Greek mythology. These nymphs became the first maenads, driven by Dionysus to madness. During their drunken orgies they would revel, dancing wildly, and engage in unbridled sexual behavior … sounds a little like Spring Break, doesn’t it? During this revelling, the participant’s souls are in a state of limbo, and in his limbo, they join with Dionysus. But the similarities to Spring Break end there, I hope, because they would also wander the forests, hunting animals and human, alike, tearing their prey to shreds. Wet T-shirts seem kind of tame, now don’t they?

Maenads could also be women who tried to resist worshiping Dionysus. He drove them to madness and forced them to behave in wanton behavior. The hunting and devouring of raw flesh, specifically the flesh of a bull, allowed the consumers to take on the characteristics of Dionysus. Greek mythology also mentions Pan’s (the god of shepherds and flocks) penchant for maenads.

Their costume was minimal, wreaths on their heads, carrying a staff adorned with vines, and wearing animal skins. Maenads are long lived but not immortal.

Michelle Forbes as Maryann

Michelle Forbes as Maryann

So, I’m sure fellow True Blood fans, you can see the similarities between these mythical women and Maryann.

• Drunken orgies
• Woman who cares for, or nurses others (Tara and Eggs)
• Maryann’s inclination to dress Greek goddessy
• The appearance of the “bull man” coinciding with Maryann’s arrival
• Mural of Pan and his human lover next to Maryann’s pool
• Maryann’s thoughts, as heard by Sookie, which were Greek to me, though I’m pretty sure I heard “Baccus” who is the Roman god of wine

Not only has True Blood become an obsession, forcing me to watch episodes again and again (while researching Maryann’s link to the maenad, I HAD TO rewatch the Bill and Sookie scenes several more times), but now True Blood is forcing me to think. Greek mythology is not part of my housewifey day. I think I need some wine …followed by a drunken orgy. I think I’ll skip the shredded raw bull meat, though.

Shadaliza
Written by Shadaliza

Shadaliza loves the Internet, film and TV shows, writing, running websites and charity fundraising; she has found the perfect combo in the fansites to express her creativity and passion. Shadaliza is Dutch, but has lived in Italy for many years and works as Marketing Executive for an Internet hosting company.

12 Comment responses

  1. Avatar
    July 06, 2009

    I LOVE the Character of Maryann! And, being a GREEK Mythology buff, I love that Alan Ball chose to incorporate the Maenad character from the books into the show.

    Reply

  2. Avatar
    July 06, 2009

    Great, great article Dorothea! It’s imformative, without being a bore, and you’ve made it quite interesting. I’m proud of you, my little piglet. There. Have I sucked up enough to you? Cause I missed you while you were gone. This is a really good article you’ve written for The Master and Her Vault. She should at least let you wear her favorite pumps.

    Reply

  3. Avatar
    July 06, 2009

    Wonderful job Dorothea! I love reading about what Marianne just might be. I can’t wait to find out what she truly is. You’ve posed some interesting questions, thanks so much. So glad this is posted.

    Reply

  4. Avatar
    July 06, 2009

    Great article Dorothea. Can’t wait to see what Alan has in store for MaryAnn this season!!!

    Reply

  5. Avatar
    July 06, 2009

    Awesome job Dorothea! Careful with drunken orgies though…**winkwink**

    Reply

  6. Avatar
    July 06, 2009

    Well done, Dorothea! Whether Maryann is a full-fledged Maenad or not, it’s obvious that she gets off on excesses of all kinds … drunkenness, orgiastic behavior and a super-abundance of food. Oh, and we can’t forget the pot smoking. Time will tell what her agenda is and what she has in store for Bon Temps.

    Reply

  7. Avatar
    July 06, 2009

    Who would have thought that our own Lism (Dorothea) is such a good writer! Way to go GF. You’ve given us much to think about in terms of Mary Ann. She is a mystery indeed.

    Reply

  8. Avatar
    July 06, 2009

    Thanks everyone. I enjoy writing about True Blood, and it’s never too late to teach a middle aged woman a new trick. Sorry…I couldn’t resist.

    Reply

  9. Avatar
    July 07, 2009

    Great Article LISM! Whatever she is I hope they kill her off in some spectacular bid !

    So are we invited ovah for the drunken orgy? LOL ! I bet TH would lurve that !

    Reply

  10. Avatar
    July 07, 2009

    ***********possible spoiler ******
    Dorothea, great article and lots of food for thought. I’ve read all the books but Mr. Ball has veered in other directions on several occassions so I am uncertain about Maryann. I believe her to be a maenad. My question is what the heck is Karl? I think I saw Miss Jeanette’s heart in that pot of “stew”. Anybody else note that? Can’t wait to see how it plays out. Have most you of ladies read the books?

    Reply

    • Avatar
      July 07, 2009

      willkill4bill ~ great observation, Miss Jeanett’s heart was possibly in the magic soup!

      Dorothea ~ thank you for your article, much clarification and fun mixed in.

      Reply

  11. Avatar
    July 27, 2009

    I am so glad I found your posting….I am a student of Greek & Roman mythology…I have been convinced that Pan, Dionysus(aka Bacchus) & Maenads were tied to this storyline. Too many similarities & I love Alan Ball & the writers for this. I know Dionysus was god of wine but he/she had the loyal devotees, Maenads (raving ones who lost self control & engaged in uncontrolled sexual behavior..they ran through the woods at nite & hunted prey of all kinds to tear apart). Dionysus also reveled in human sacrifice & mass hysteria & intoxication & loved to shake things up. Pan of course has been mentioned. He can induce ‘Panic’. He is horned & part man…loves noise & loud music. Pan also supposedly had sex with the Maenads. Gotta say there are sooo many coincidences & it just makes me love this show even more! :)

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