Gregory G. H. Rihn (milwaukeesfs) wrote,
Gregory G. H. Rihn

Dionysus and Apollo at Hofstra College

Last night's Presidential debate firmed up a thought that has been floating around my mind lately, to wit, that this contest is not just one of Republican versus Democrat, or conservative versus liberal, but also Dionysian versus Apollonian.

These are two aspects of human nature, according to the ancient Greeks. The Dionysian represented the wild, the undisciplined, the primal. The Apollonian represented the civilized, the logical, the refined.

Donald Trump embodies Dionysius (or, given his age and girth, Bacchus), with his lifestyle of the rich-and-famous, his roster of beautiful wives (and presumably beautiful mistresses), and his dedication to hedonism and display. As a real-estate developer, he concentrates on posh hotels, posh casinos, by-definition posh country clubs, and posh condominium towers. His "brands" include indulgent products like Trump Vodka, and Trump Steaks. (His alleged preference for his steaks as "burnt offerings" is another connection to the god--.)

Appropriately, his entire appeal is based on emotion: he appeals to inchoate wants, to greed, anger, and fear (Pan, the god who gives us the word "panic" is often associated with Dionysus). His attractiveness is based on his wealth, power, and lustiness.

On the other hand, Hillary Clinton is highly Apollonian in her approach. She appeals to logic, reason, and common sense. Perhaps, since she is a woman, we should say that Hillary is "Athenian," since Athena, Goddess of Wisdom, partakes of many of the same attributes of Apollo and is a warrior goddess (some of Hillary's non-fans fear that she would be too aggressive--.) . (Of course, Clinton also partakes of aspects of Hera, the put-upon wife of a roving husband. She had her own martial aspect: few recall that, in the Trojan War, when Athena took the field against Ares, Hera was her charioteer.)

As follower of Apollo/Athena, I naturally prefer Clinton, but I see Trump's appeal to the insecure and angry. I don't think last night's debate will change minds among the already committed, but hopefully might have made some difference among the so-far undecided.

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