Patterns of Culture

by Ruth Fulton

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What do "Apollonian" and "Dionysian" mean in Ruth Benedict's Patterns of Culture?

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Benedict's ideas, drawn from Nietzsche concept of opposites, of Apollonian and Dionysian cultures describe the cultural conception of behavior on a continuum from restraint to abandon. She notes that in some cultures, celebrations are conducted with great abandon of behavior, which takes on a frenzied, wild aspect, while in other cultures, celebrations are conducted with great restraint of behavior, which presents order and calm. Dionysian relates to the first frenzied, abandoned pattern while Apollonian relates to the second controlled, restrained pattern.

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