Ekstasos

Entertainment / Literature / Ekstasos: (Greek, 'ecstasy') In Greek thinking, ekstasos is a non-rational state of mind that people achieve by 'losing themselves' in an experience--becoming so engrossed in a sensation or a moment that one forgets about one's ego, one's life, and all other considerations beyond that emotion or feeling. That ekstasos can be provided by wild dancing, profound mourning and weeping, alcoholic intoxication, sexual pleasure, or religious enthrallment. This mental state contrasted with logos (rationality and logic). Ekstasos was a dangerous condition due to that irrationality, but it was a necessary and holy one for the ancient Greeks--a transcendental experience that took the initiate beyond the normal bounds of behavior and his or her mortal limitations for a short time. Unlike the English word 'ecstasy,' which implies pleasure, the Greeks thought of ekstasos as coming from any sufficiently strong emotion whether positive or negative. Grief and pain could be gateways to it as easily as pleasure. A worshipper of Aphrodite in the Acrocorinth would undergo ekstasos in the arms of a temple prostitute, but a theater-goer would experience ekstasos while watching a tragic play and feeling pity and fear through catharsis, and the worshippers of Dionysus/Bacchus would experience ekstasos while dancing drunkenly, or a Maenad priestess while tearing an animal apart in a frenzy. While most English translations think of Dionysus or Bacchus as being a god of 'revelry,' the Greek term ekstasos indicates a far different and more complex phenomenon to describe his domain.

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