Ancient Myths * Analysis * Modern Interpretations of Ancient Myths * Analysis * Images

1. Birth of Dionysos
from Apollodorus 3.4.3

After Zeus had relations with Semele, Hera deceived her into asking Zeus for the same type of courtship he had with Hera. Semele then asked Zeus to come down in his divine form, but his chariot and thunderbolts literally scared her to death. Hoping to save their unborn child, Zeus grabbed the fetus of Dionysos and sewed it into his thigh. Dionysos was then born and was cared for by Hermes.

2. Dionysos Recaptures Mt. Kithairon
from Hyginus, Fabulae 131*

When Dionsysos originally left his kingdom, he granted power of authority to his nurse Nysus. Later, when he returned, Nysus was unwilling to return the kingdom to Dionysos, its rightful ruler. In order to avoid conflict, Dionysos decided to wait until an opportunity arose for him to reclaim his kingdom. Three years later, Dionysos pretended to make up with Nysus and suggested they throw a party, to which he promised he would bring many beautiful women. The women, however, were actually soldiers, and Dionysos was able to recapture his kingdom.
* Scroll about 1/3 down the page to Mt. Kithairon heading

3. Dionysos Discovers Wine
from Nonnus, Dionysiaca 12.330*

Remembering a prophecy** that Rhea had told him, Dionysos makes the first-ever batch of wine, securing his reputation as the god of wine.
* Fifth paragraph down under the "Discovery of Wine" heading
** The prophecy is not described in detail

4. Dionysos and the Pirates
from Homeric Hymns 7.1-59

The Tyrsenian pirates tried to capture Dionysos. In retribution, Dionysos terrorized the pirates by first getting the pirates drunk, and then turning himself into a lion and creating a bear. The pirates were frightened, and in order to save themselves, they jumped overboard, but were promptly changed into dolphins by Dionysos. The helmsman, however, warned the pirates not to follow through with their ploy and was spared.

5. Trickery of Pentheus
from Euripides, Bacchae

Dionysos returns to Thebes, the homeland of his mother, to punish the king, Pentheus, for refusing to allow his people to worship him and to clear his mother's name. When he arrives at Thebes, he makes his mother's sisters go mad and they flee to Mt. Kithairon to practice the Dionysian rites. Pentheus feels that his power is threatened because the women of the town flee to the forest to worship the raucous god. Dionysos begins to torment Pentheus, first by causing him to tie only a bull when attempting to capture the god, and then by dressing him in women's clothing. Eventually Dionysos lures Pentheus to the forest of maenads, where his mother, Agaue, rips his face off, believing what she holds to be the head of a lion.


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Last updated 23 October 05 - -

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