Greece: Inspiration Behind the Shocking ‘Modern Maenad’ Photo

This post is part of our special coverage Europe in Crisis.

“We have a dream. We are still alive. We just want peace. But … we have to fight.” These are the four sentences that accompany a recent photo entitled ‘Greek Maenads’, by the photographer/blogger ‘Dimitris the Athens‘. The photo shows a young naked woman, a symbol of a modern Maenad [mythological female follower of Dionysus], bleeding from her navel and holding in her hands like a newborn baby, the Greek flag.

The photo, which has travelled around the world through social media, underlines the current psychological situation of Greek people, their lost pride and anger, while experiencing the crisis.

Dimitris the Athens was inspired to create the image by the myth of ancient Greek nymphs, called Maenads. In his blog, writes [el, uk] about them:

Maenades were nymphs, the female companions and followers of the god Dionysus, their name literally translates as “raving ones. (…) Indeed, the main characteristic of the Maenads was their ecstatic frenzy where often inspired by Dionysus and through a combination of dancing and drunken intoxication, they would lose all self-control, begin shouting excitedly and engage in uncontrolled, hyperactive and beyond logic violent behavior. In modern day Greece, the Maenads exist and continue to upset…

Modern Greek 'Maenad'. Photo by Dimitris the Athens,

Modern Greek 'Maenad'. Photo by Dimitris the Athens,

Dimitris the Athens, giving an exclusive interview about his photo for Global Voices, says that he was motivated and inspired by the non-reactions of people and the misery which exists around us today:

I was sick and tired by seeing photos in foreign media showing only homeless, immigrants, incapable politicians. Future…. Rebirth… Pride…. nowhere…

About the Maenads of modern Greece, he states:

I cannot identify them yet quite clearly but I can “smell” them intensely and nice. They are on their road, they are getting prepared. They are next to us. You can find them in the basis, in the clear folk proud souls, which will react without the god Dionysus, this time.

As one of the clear messages of the photo is the necessity of reaction and fight, Dimitris the Athens gives his explanation about what fight means:

The fight begins by turning off TVs and reacting to everything that has crystallized as a dogma and lowers our pride (self-esteem). This war is neither financial or political, it is an Ethical war.

He firmly believes that the Greek crisis is clearly ethical, but as he concludes, borrowing the lyrics of a Greek song:
The days which are ahead will be strange but wonderful days.
The photo has attracted the attention of social media and many news websites, not only in Greece but worldwide. Twitter user, Papapetrou Patroklos, tweets:
@ppapapetrou76: You really need to see it / read it: #MAENADS Really shocking photo of a woman bleeding holding the #greek flag
The news website Greek Reporter writes about the impact of the bloody Maenad:
Users of several social media all around the world, such as Facebook and Twitter, have published the picture in their personal profiles, creating a giant chain of the Greek bloodied Maenad, sharing the message of the concept. (…) The few-words-long slogan is what every Greek person thinks these days, that Greece struggles with the financial crisis and this may be a reason why this image became immediately popular.
The reactions of people to the photo proves right the comment of the photographer that in modern day Greece, the Maenads exist and continue to upset…
This post is part of our special coverage Europe in Crisis.

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