On Friday, 18 January 2019, the College of Europe in Natolin, the Faculty of Humanities at the Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw and the Teologia Polityczna Annual Review organised an international conference on "Religion and Politics: The Cult of Dionysus in the Graeco-Roman World".
The aim of the conference was to debate the relationship between religion and politics in antiquity — by politics we mean not only actions pursued by the state but also the sum of factors that allowed communities of the ancient world to identify and justify their place in the world. Dionysus played a key role in Greek thinking on the essence and order of the polis. He also embodied a civilising and unifying force, which can very well be observed in the legend of Alexander the Great that was purposefully modelled on Dionysian myths. These ideas entered Roman culture, i.e. the cult of Dionysus was seen by some as an alternative to the existing political order, yet it became a part of the image of a victorious ruler that was created by Roman politicians, leaders and emperors. Importantly, Dionysian mythology, particularly as depicted in Euripides’ Bacchae, was used by Christian communities in the early Empire to present their political identity.
The conference was organised within the framework of a research project titled "Dionysus in the religious policy of the Roman emperors from Augustus to the end of the Severan dynasty", which has been generously funded by the National Programme for the Development of Humanities as established by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education.