Maenads are the immortal female followers of Dionysus, the god of ritual madness and ecstasy. Their name literally translates as "Raving ones".
Often, the Maenads were portrayed as inspired by Dionysus into a state of ecstatic frenzy through a combination of dancing and drunken intoxication. In this state, they would lose all self-control, begin shouting excitedly, engage in uncontrolled sexual behavior, and ritualistically hunt down and tear animals (and sometimes men and children) to pieces, devouring the raw flesh.
During these rites, the Maenads would dress in fawn skins and weave ivy-wreaths around their heads, and often handle or wear snakes. Maenads were also known as a type of nymph, immortal goddesses of natural manifestations; Maenads being the extremes of pleasurable emotions and actions: sex, rage, inebriation, frenzy, etc.
HistoryEditIn Roman Mythology, Maenads were also known as Bassarids (or Bacchae or Bacchantes) after the Roman equivalent of Dionysus, known as, Bacchus. Cultic rites associated with worship of the Greek god of wine, Dionysus (or Bacchus in Roman mythology), were allegedly characterized by maniacal dancing to the sound of loud music and crashing cymbals, in which the revelers, called Maenad, whirled, screamed, became drunk and incited one another to greater and greater ecstasy. The goal was to achieve a state of enthusiasm in which the celebrants’ souls were temporarily freed from their earthly bodies and were able to commune with Bacchus/Dionysus and gain a glimpse of what they would someday experience in eternity. The rite climaxed in a performance of frenzied feats of strength and madness, such as uprooting trees and tearing a bull (the symbol of Dionysus) apart with their bare hands, an act called Sparagmos, and eating its flesh raw. This latter rite was a sacrament akin to communion in which the participants assumed the strength and character of the god by symbolically eating the raw flesh and drinking the blood of his symbolic incarnation. Having symbolically eaten his body and drunk his blood, the celebrants became possessed by Dionysus.
Powers and Abilities Edit
- Immortality: Maenads are ageless and cannot die as long as their supernatural defenses are up. According to Sophie-Anne Leclerq, Maenads are immortal because they convinced themselves they are.
- Enhanced Strength: Maenads possesses some degree of enhanced strength, as seen when Maryann singlehandedly lifted Sookie a few feet of the ground. It is unknown if Maenads are stronger or weaker than vampires.
- Enhanced Speed: Maenads are incredibly fast, this was seen when Maryann moved across a room faster than even the vampire Bill Compton's eyes could follow. She again demonstrated her speed further when she chased Sookie throughout the woods.
- Enhanced Durability: Maenads are remarkably durable, seeing as Maryann deflected a bullet with her bare hand. She was also able to withstand being jolted by Sookie's electricity. Maryann proved impossible for vampires to drain, as her blood was made up of a black, corrosive and/or poisonous substance.
- Channeling: Maenad's channel human energy for sustenance and they can produce a number of other effects in a supernatural being by channeling their respective energies. When enacting this ability, Maryann's body was shown to slightly unhinge physically, beginning to flicker and vibrate maddeningly. She usually stayed in one fixed location with her eyes closed, suggesting this was something of a meditative process for her. Maenads are somewhat sensitive to powerful energy sources, as Maryann claims that the ritual energy from Nancy LeGuare's spell is what ultimately summoned her to Bon Temps in the first place.
- Mind Control: Maenads can control and manipulate the behavior and thoughts of humans. All humans caught within range as Maryann spun her thrall are shown to begin engaging in hedonistic and primitive behavior.
- Psychic Pain Infliction: Maenads are able to induce an extreme amount of mental pain onto the victims under their control.
- Forced Shifting: Maenads can force Shapeshifters to change form against their will.
- Madness Inducement: In Charlaine Harris's books, Maenads also have limited control over vampires, bestowing in them the madness infection, whereby they would go into a bestial mindset and become insane, known to be completely incurable and the only option would be to stake the vampire.
- Poisonous Claws: Maenads can morph their hands into talons that are used for poisoning and tearing apart their prey. This poison is similar to the bacteria found in a Komodo dragon's mouth, albeit more effective. Unless proper medical treatment is provided, not even vampire blood can heal this poison and the recipient's body will reject it otherwise.
- Aerokinesis: Maenads were shown producing unexpected gusts of wind when mind-controlling masses. Whether or not they have any control over this or if it this was just an uncontrollable byproduct of their mass hypnosis is unknown.