In the ancient Greek world the religion was an integral part and an essential element in people's both private and public life. Dionysos, the god of wine and of theatrical performances, was a significant god of the Hellenic pantheon and his cult was popular and widespread among the Greeks. Moreover, he was being worshiped as a chthonic deity that was related with the fertility of nature and with mystic rituals often under the epithet Bacchus.
The aim of the present thesis is to provide a detailed presentation and a substantive overview of all the aspects in people’s life that express their religious conception and preference to the cult of Dionysos in the Greek colonies of the Black Sea region at different historical periods. In researching such a complicated phenomenon as the religion of a community that encompass various beliefs and rituals, the actual facts, the ancient written records, the cult implements and monuments are being considered along with the seeds from which they arose. That is, in a first level, the connection between the Greek mythology and the religion, while in a second level that is specified by the actual needs of the inhabitants of a colony in conjunction with the character of its economy and the overall necessities that led to the invocation of Dionysos for help and support.
The core of the inquiry contains an enumeration and a thorough examination of all the immobile and mobile findings, discovered so far, such as the architectural remains of temples and theatres, the inscriptions, the statues, the coins, the pottery, the terracotta figurines and other artefacts, which reflect the predilection of a colony towards the cult of Dionysos. Some general historical information of the cities, from which our evidence originate, are also provided. Finally, the political aspect of Dionysos’ cult is being approached through the analysis of the religious policy of Mithridates VI the Eupator in the Pontic and Bosporan Kingdom.
The key tool for accomplishing the present thesis was the combined research and the correlation of the relatively limited ancient written sources with the archaeological evidence. Even though several ancient sites are beneath modern cities or in other cases submerged by the rise of the sea level, numerous excavations and surveys had been conducted throughout the whole Black Sea littoral. Despite the significant archaeological material derived from the excavations, especially from the western, northwestern area and the Kerch Straits, their publications is, at least yet, far from being adequate for the academic scholarship.