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1001 deeds, sayings, curiosities and anecdotes of the ancient world

Apollonian and Dionysian

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Apollonian” is self-controlled person. In contrast, “dionysian” is an impulsive person.

Apollonian” is an adjective that we use to describe a person,  who has a perfect body and also to refer to a calm, quiet and self-controlled person, according to the definition that the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language provides us. In contrast, “dionysian” is an impulsive, instinctive and orgiastic person.

With a more specialized philosophical and cultural meaning, we will say that they are two terms coined by the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), inspired by the Greek mythology and used by him to expose his personal aesthetic conception and refer to two opposite attitudes towards life.

Apollonian (derived from Apollo, the Greek god of reason, intelligence and light) refers to human cultural facts when they are bright, rational, balanced, content, subject to standard and individual. Dionysian (derived from Dionysus, the Greek god of Nature, life and wine) refers to what is instinctive and irrational in our behaviors, to the affirmation of the wish to live without restrictions, and also to how the group affects, influences or acts in human cultural facts.


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