One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
(in ancient Greece) a female follower of Bacchus, traditionally associated with divine possession and frenzied rites.
- ‘Dionysos and his satyrs, nymphs, and maenads are, of course, found everywhere in the ancient world, but they appear most frequently in dining rooms and gardens.’
- ‘He (or she, for this god could be tantalizingly androgynous) is said to have come from the East, with his maenads, fauns, satyrs, and wine lunacy.’
- ‘His following is made up of satyrs and sileni (amoral woodland creatures, basically human but with some animal characteristics) and maenads, who seem possessed or intoxicated.’
- ‘They dance in imitation of maenads who associated with the god in the old days.’
- ‘In the context of the Counter-Reformation, there is also a fascinating echo here of the standard format of an altarpiece, with the satyrs and maenads at the foot of the painting taking the place normally occupied by donors.’
Late 16th century: via Latin from Greek Mainas, Mainad-, from mainesthai ‘to rave’.
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