Whoa, Werewolves in Xena?
Hercules: the Legendary Journeys, and its spin-off show, Xena: Warrior Princess were host to a variety of supernatural and mythological creatures. And if you love mythology, like most of us, you’ve probably at least watched one or two seasons. Not all of its mythology is correct, however, –as a matter of fact, most of it is total bullshit. However, this is when the writers, I feel, are at their most creative. Which brings to mind a particular episode when Xena, Gabrielle, and their sometimes idiot companion, Joxer, are introduced to what appear to be werewolves.
The werewolves are actually devotees of the horned god, Bacchus, a reference to Satan if I ever saw one. The women in the cult of Bacchus were wild, lustful creatures, who lived in the forest. Drunken orgies with pre-Christian era hip hop seem to be the big thing in the lives of the “Bacchae” as they’re called in the show. The Bacchi become such after being bitten by another Bacchae. The symptoms? Fangs, yellow eyes, and the ability to transform into animals, but wolves are their particular favorite. The affliction is spread by bite.
They could easily fall into the vampires category, if it wasn’t for their wolf-form preference, and they don’t actually drink blood to survive. Instead, they eat whatever they can, and mostly just worship the god Bacchus, by organizing orgies, hiring DJs, and spreading the Bacchi disease. Does this have anything at all to the actual Bacchus mythology?
Not really, but there are actually a few interesting facts about ‘Bacchanalia’, the cult worship and religion followed by the cult of Bacchus. For one thing, Bacchus was the Roman adoption of Dionysus, the god of wine. Parallel to Xena, the Bacchus worshipers were primarily women, –men only attended the festivals to watch. The mythology surrounding Bacchus and Dionysus is also rife with examples of cannibalism, –drawing more parallels to the Xena interpretation, –though honestly, I doubt they put this kind of thought into the research (no offense, guys!). Interesting parallels also exist between the cult of Bacchus and Christian mythology, given stories of divine conception and cannibalism, and the symbolism of wine. And if you’re interested, there’s a completely unrelated Greek tragedy, ‘The Bacchae’ with several different stage and opera interpretations, still being performed today.