The Greek Theatre, with geometry based on interlocking triangles and a geometrically interrelated square
Then the extract from Amazement Arcadia [last part of chapter 2]:
Let us follow a different lead. We’ve seen how Titian’s Bacchus and Ariadne depicts the Boötes constellation, and have mentioned that, as observed by Phillip Coppens, Poussin’s Shepherds of Arcadia II also depicts Boötes, as well as the nearby figure of Hercules. We know that another name for the Boötes constellation was Ikarios, who is the archetypal Dionysian initiate in that he is raised from the tomb, and passes on the Dionysian gifts and celebrations, perhaps also the accompanying Mysteires. We may note that it was not Poussin’s Arcadian Shepherds paintings that first carried the phrase Et In Arcadia Ego, but a painting by Guercino. This same painter also painted a raising of Lazarus that is strongly suggestive of the raising of the initiate in the Third Degree of Freemasonry. In this Masonic initiation the candidates are raised from the tomb; are asked to consider their mortality, and also the rising of their spirit from the grave to shine eternally like the stars. This, of course, is what happens to Ikarios when he rises up as the Boötes constellation. Could it be that this Freemasonic raising goes back to Dionysian initiation? Well funnily enough, there is a Freemasonic tradition which claims that the proto-Freemasons of ancient times were a group called the Dionysiac Artificers. These were said to be a group with Greek roots who lived in the Phoenician city of Tyre in the Lebanon, and who were employed by Solomon in the construction of the Temple of Solomon. Their chief architect was said to be a figure called Hiram Abiff, who suffered a fate similar to Ikarios, even being buried at the foot of a tree, as Ikarios was. So those masons at work in the Temple of Solomon were Phoenicians from Tyre, according to the Masonic tradition, and as it happens the ancient novel Leucippe and Clitophon by Tatius provides us with a version of this very Ikarios story that is set in Tyre. Paraphrasing from the recent translation by Tim Whitmarsh (Oxford World's Classics):- The inhabitants of Tyre consider Dionysos to be a local god.... They say they were the first to receive the gift of wine...the original mother of wines had her birth there. They tell a story of a local hospitable shepherd who they claim to be an equivalent of the Athenian figure of Ikarios. Dionysos visited this herdsman, who gave him gifts of all the pastoral produce he possessed. Dionysos thanked him, and gave him a cup of wine out of gratitude. He drank it and went into a rapture of ecstasy at the taste, asking what it was."This is Autumn's Liquid," replied the god. "This is the blood of the grape cluster." What could a group of artisans devoted to Dionysos have had to do with the Temple of Solomon? We may recall here that over the years Solomon has come to be associated with a particular geometric figure – the Seal of Solomon, also known as the hexagram made from interlocking equilateral triangles. We shall see soon that this geometry does in fact link into the heart of the traditions of the Artisans of Dionysos in Antiquity. Freemasonry evolved amongst guilds of stonemasons. Turning our attention to the guilds present in the earlier period in Athens, we note that they could have their own Mysteries. So, for example, the Praxiergidai who carried out some secret ceremony during the festival in which a sacred statue of Athena on the Acropolis in Athens was given a new robe were probably an ancient guild, according to R.J.Hopper in The Acropolis, p.65. Turning our attention to the Greek stonemasons, there are some myths that seem to have been particularly favoured by them. The Battle of the Lapiths and Centaurs was carved in many places: onto the Parthenon on the Acropolis, the Hephaestum temple in the Agora in Athens (formerly called the Theseum perhaps for this reason, since Theseus is a prominent figure in the story), and also the Athenian Treasury of Delphi, all of which might not seem so strange with Theseus being a legendary figure important to the Athenians. However the myth is not set in Athens, but in Thessaly, and scholars have long puzzled over the question of why this same myth should also have been carved onto the Temple of Apollo in Bassae and to have pride of place also on the pediment of so important a building as the Temple of Zeus in Olympia, especially since it is a myth which received very little attention from those who put pen to paper rather than lifting chisel to stone, and was certainly not as famous as others of Theseus’ exploits. Perhaps it should cause us some interest that versions of the story feature the figures of Boötes and his daughter, like the Ikarios myth, and that it is in fact a version of that same myth, namely of figures who became drunk and abusive when misusing the gift of wine. In this version Daidamia a daughter of Boötes is marrying Perithouos, best friend of Theseus. The centaurs are sat with various others of the guests in a cave. The motif of the Thessalian cave normally crops up in connection with the Centaur Cheiron, and sometimes in the context of Mystery Initiation, as with Aristaeus. When the wine is brought round the Centaurs overdo it, drinking it unmixed, and then run riot, and Theseus leaps into the fray to drive them off. Robert Graves couldn’t accept that such a story would be used on so many temples unless it was connected to some ceremony. He imagined a coronation dance in which the new king danced in mock battle with silenus-figures representing the Centaurs. For me, the connection is through the Ikarios myth, and through that to the Dionysiac Artificers of Tyre since that city had its own version of the Ikarios myth. Considering this and the way that the Lapiths and Centaurs story seems to have been a stock myth of the temple builders, I being to wonder whether the story was in fact part of a Mystery Initiation of a temple-builder guild. It is best to imagine that the purpose of this initiation was the opening of the Sight and through that the understanding of the initiate to the beauty of the Realm of Forms, this being perception and knowledge which must be possessed by any architect engaged in classical design. “Temples were built to access the laws of perfection in higher worlds and to imprint these laws in the minds of the people.” Alchemy of Nine Dimensions, Barbara Hand-Clow Socrates’ as mentioned in Chapter 1 is thought to have come from a family of stonemasons, and I suggest again that this was one possible origin for his philosophy of Forms, which does not in this case have to contradict the theory that he received the knowledge from priests and priestesses, since such figures could, and did, preside over the guilds. So then we may perhaps imagine the initiate in the cave undergoing a symbolic mock death at the hands of the horse-totem figures in Silenus costumes representing the Centaurs; a raising would follow and somewhere would be included the sight of figures of the fixed constellation animals placed onto the cave walls as in the Persian initiations described by Porphyry, and the Simile of the Cave in The Republic, presumably also depicting the Boötes region connected with this myth. Through this they would hopefully sense the subtle light of the totemic Akashic Records, M-fields, the Realm of the Eternal, and activation of this perception would then become the continual purpose underlying all their architectural activities, “keeping the Eternal in mind and using it as the model of the form of their productions” as Timaeus advises – great advice for stone masons. So it would have been practical knowledge for the stonemason, the least speculative type of initiation. We just noted that the myth had its counterpart in Tyre, and so a variant of the initiation was probably carried out there, rather as with the Freemasonic traditions of the Dionysiac Artificers of Tyre. So let me get more to the point, for in fact there really were guilds in antiquity with this name, Dionysou Technitai, “Artisans of Dionysos”. These guilds were companies of artists and musicians who worked in and for the theatres from at least the 3rd century BC. It is intriguing that each of these guilds of Dionysos was headed by a priest of Dionysos, for this tells us that there must have been some kind of ceremonial, cultic, initiatory element to membership. As students of music they may well have learnt about harmony and proportion. In Geometry and the Liberal Arts by Dan Pedoe, who was a professor of Mathematics at the University of Minnesota, we read how Vitruvius, the Roman architect of Augustus who studied in Athens, said that an architect “should be skilful with his pencil, instructed in geometry, conversant with history, should have followed the philosophers with attention, should understand music…and be acquainted with astronomy and the theory of the heavens.” We can reasonably connect the Dionysou Technitai, surely, directly to the architecture of these theatres, which was formal and geometric as I mentioned briefly in the last chapter. Vitruvius recorded the standard geometry underlying the Roman theatre. It was, we read in Pedoe’s book, based on a dodecahedral structure formed from four equilateral triangles. The connection with the Zodiac is implicit in the geometry, and Vitruvius made it explicit in his description. “In the [main] circle, inscribe four equilateral triangles at equal distances apart, as the astrologers do when constructing the Zodiac,” wrote the ancient architect.
Already we may note that this pattern is simply made of a double Seal of Solomon, with four equilateral triangles rather than the simple two. This is rather interesting, for here we have an architectural structure deriving from the real, historical Artisans of Dionysos yet relating geometrically to that same pattern with which their legendary equivalents are associated in Freemasonic tradition. Put another way, the theatres of Dionysos were in a sense temples of the Seal of Solomon. The Greek theatre was similar to the later Roman in its sacred geometry, being again based on dodecahedral geometry, but with features that indicate the presence of a square within the underlying pattern. Dan Pedoe has the Greek theatre geometry as being formed from three squares rather than four triangles.
However, there is in fact an interesting way in which the square relates to the same pattern made of the four equilateral triangles described by Vitruvius, as shown below. [actually above]
And this too is intriguing, for it leads us back to Poussin, and his Shepherd’s of Arcadia. There is a book called The Tomb of God which concerned the part played by Poussin’s paintings in the “Rennes-le-Chateaux” mystery. Its ultimate conclusion was a big leap from its initial detective work. The conclusion had to do with interpretations along the lines of a map indicating the location of the tomb of Jesus in the South of France. Here we are concerned only with the initial detective work, for the presence of this geometry in the “discovered” parchments can hardly be denied. It was geometry the writers Andrews and Schellenberger also found in Poussin’s two Shepherds paintings. Does this indicate that the link between those paintings and the old Dionysian Mysteries was not just astronomical, but also geometric? If so, the evidence for continuity of those Mystery Traditions in some form is certainly beginning to mount up. In the final chapter we shall return to these French Mysteries of the Seal of Solomon.
For the moment, before we go on to the next chapter, perhaps we may also reasonably connect the Dionysou Technitai, the artisans who worked in the theatres, with the skene, the large paintings that often formed the backdrop for the plays. This is of interest as these paintings may well be the origin of the ekphrasis-based novelistic Mysteries we examined in the first chapter, which fits with the hypothesis we had begun to form at the end of that chapter, namely that those Mysteries of constellation-based ekphrasis had been passed on in the Dionysian Mysteries. Rather more confident about this, we proceed now to Chapter 3.