Dionysus was unique among the Olympians in that his mother was human. He was the god of wine, revelry and ecstatic madness. He also played a central role in Orphic myth, where he is said to have been reincarnated twice: as the son of Zeus-Hades and Persephone, and then as an Olympian. He was also the patron of the ancient Dionysian Mysteries, a cult ritual that involved drinking, dancing, and mind-altering drugs.
DionisioShe was the thirteenth Olympian, replacing Hestia in many myths as one of the Twelve. The following myths are stories of his deity through Greek tradition.
- Myths and Stories of Dionysius
- 1st son of Zeus and Semele
- 2. Semele the dish
- 3. Troubled childhood
- 4. A wandering god
- 5. Lovers of Ampelus
- 6. A triumphant return
- 7. The Punishment of Pentheus
- 8. Kidnapped by pirates!
- 9. Ariadne's court
- 10. King Midas and the Golden Touch
- 11. Father of Priapus
- 12. Abduction of the aura
1st son of Zeus and Semele
Semele was the daughter of the hero Cadmus and served as her priestessZeus. Zeus noticed her and desired her and came to earth in the form of a man to woo her. The two became lovers and Semele became pregnant.
Hera found out about the affair and appeared to Semele as a wife and friend. She convinced Semele that if Zeus made love to her, she would show him her true form. Being unaware of this, Zeus promised her one wish the next time he saw Semele, anything she wanted. Semele, deceived by Hera, insisted on seeing Zeus as a god. Zeus tried to dissuade her, but she didn't change her mind.
Zeus revealed his god form to Semele, and the sight was too much for her. His eyes burned and he died as his body was overpowered. Zeus rescued the baby from her womb and sewed it onto his own thigh. There Dionysus was carried out until he was ready to be born.
2. Semele the dish
Dionysus was accepted by the Olympian gods and either shared Hestia's throne or received his aunt's seat. As he grew up, Zeus told him stories about his mother, whom Zeus loved. As an adult, Dionisio decided that he should meet her.
He traveled to the underworld to ask his uncle Hades to give it back to him. When he reached the entrance to the underworld, he was confronted by the three-headed guard dog Cerberus. With the help of his half-brother, the Greek hero Heracles, Dionysus defeated the beast and entered the underworld.
Dionysus found his mother and brought her back to the surface, rising out of the water and proving his divinity to those who doubted him. He then ascended to Olympus with her and gave her a second life as a goddess, renaming her Thyone. She became the goddess of rage.
3. Troubled childhood
When Dionysus was a child, Zeus knew that to escape Hera's wrath he had to send his son down from Olympus. He entrusted him to the care of the messenger of the gods, Hermes, who promised to find a good foster home for his half-brother.
Hermes first led Dionysus to the river nymphs known as the Lamids, daughters of Lamos. They took the child and loved and cared for them. However, when Hera found out where he was hiding, she cursed the nymphs like crazy. They attacked the baby with the intention of killing him. Hermes discovered this and ran home where he rescued Dionysus.
After this, Hermes brought Dionysus to Ino, sister of Semele and queen of Boeotia. Ino agreed to raise her nephew alongside her cousins Learchus and Melicertes. She and Hermes disguised the girl as a girl to protect her from Hera. Ino taught Dionysus the mysteries. However, Hera found out after a few years and sent the madness to Ino's husband Athamas.
Athamas was angry. He killed Learchus and then went after Ino to kill her and her other son as well. Ino threw a melicertes into the sea, killing them both. Later they were reborn as gods.
Hermes rescued Dionysus once more and brought him to his grandmother, the Titan Rhea. Rhea raised the boy to adulthood before returning him to Olympus.
4. A wandering god
As a man, Dionysus was the first to learn how to extract the juice from the vine and turn it into wine. When he tried to share this knowledge, Hera cursed him madly and sent him aimlessly through the world, unaware of his own divinity.
Dionysus was eventually found by Reia, who cured his insanity and taught him rituals. Leaving Rhea, he continued to travel and explore Asia to teach mankind the secrets of wine. He settled in India for several years and found the city of Nysa near the Indus.
5. Lovers of Ampelus
on your hikesDionisiohe befriended Ampelos, who was a satyr, a kind of nature spirit. Ampelos helped Dionisio harvest the grapes and became his assistant in making wine. Dionisio and Ampelos fell in love and became a couple.
There are two stories about the death of Ampelus. In the first, the satyr insulted the moon goddess Selene. Selene sent a bull that killed Ampelos. On the second floor, Ampelos just fell while picking grapes from the vine.
A devastated Dionysus devoutly paid homage to his beloved. In one story he made Ampelus the first vine from which he pressed the sweetest wine. In another he threw Ampelus under the stars, where the satyr became the constellation Vindemitor, the grape-picker.
6. A triumphant return
Dionysus returned to Greece after his journey with a procession of followers. Known as thiasos, they reveled in exuberance, ecstasy, and willful madness. The female members of the entourage were known as maenads.
The maenads were humans, replacing the nymphs that were usually part of a god's retinue. However, many nymphs, nature spirits, and even some gods were members of Thiasos. In some stories, this included the ancient god Pan.
Because of this, Dionysus became known as the first to hold a triumphal procession.
7. The Punishment of Pentheus
Besides Ino, Semele had two other older sisters: Agave and Autonoe. The three living sisters resided in Thebes, which was ruled by Agave's son, Pentheus, Dionysus' maternal cousin. When Dionysus returned to Thebes, all his aunts and cousins doubted his divinity, even Ino who raised him. His maternal grandparents, Cadmus and the goddess Harmony, also denied it.
The prophet Tiresias warned the maternal family of Dionysus that they should obey the god. They denied the warnings and denounced Dionysus for the madness of the maenads.
As punishment, Dionysus drove Pentheus insane. Then he invited him to participate in the rituals of the maenads. Pentheus hid in a tree hoping to witness a women's orgy. The maenads saw him and attacked him. Agave and her sisters, also in ecstatic madness, joined the attack.
After Pentheus died, Agave cut off his head and stuck it on a spear. He presented the trophy to his father Cadmus. Then Dionysus appeared in his god form, banishing his aunts and turning his grandparents into snakes.
8. Kidnapped by pirates!
One day Dionysus was sitting by the sea. Some sailors saw him and mistook him for a human prince. They decided to capture him to make them slaves, sell him into slavery, or hold him for ransom. They tried to tie him up with ropes, but each time the rope fell off. There would be no connection left.
The ship's helmsman, Acoetes, tried to stop his companions. They ignored him and pulled Dionisio on board. Dionysus turned into a lion and then called a bear on deck, which killed the sailors. Some jumped into the sea and became dolphins. The only human survivor was Acoetes.
Later, Dionysus hired a pirate ship to take him to Naxos. The pirates decided to betray him and instead sailed to Asia where they planned to sell him into slavery. Dionysus responded by turning the mast and oars into snakes and filling the boat with ivy. He played mystical flutes that drove the sailors mad. They all jumped into the sea and turned into dolphins.
9. Ariadne's court
Ariadne was the daughter of Minos of Crete who fell in love with the hero Theseus and helped him through the maze to kill the Minotaur. However, Theseus left Ariadne on an island while she slept. Dionysus found and rescued Ariadne, and the two fell in love.
Dionysus married Ariadne and the two had several children. His three most important were Oenopion, who gouged out Orion's eyes for attempting to rape his daughter Staphylos and Thoas.
Unfortunately, Ariadne was killed by the hero Perseus during a war between Perseus and Dionysus.
10. King Midas and the Golden Touch
Midas was a king of Phrygia. One day, Silenus, Dionisio's teacher and friend, disappeared. Midas found it and nursed it back to health before returning it to Dionysus.
Dionysus was excited and told Midas that he could get any benefit he wanted as a reward. Midas was overcome with greed and asked that everything he touched turn to gold. Although Dionysus warned him not to choose anything else, Midas insisted.
Midas soon realized his folly. He could neither eat nor drink; I couldn't sleep comfortably. His daughter hugged him and she too turned to gold.
The king tried to get rid of the golden breath. He asked Dionysus to save him from starvation. Dionysus took pity on him and ordered him to wash himself in a river, which robbed him of his golden touch.
11. Father of Priapus
Dionysus spent time as the consort of his Olympian consort, the goddess of love, Aphrodite. The two loved each other and she bore him a son, Priapus. In some versions, Priapus' mother is Chione, daughter of the North Wind.
Hera, angry at Aphrodite for disrespecting her and also hating Dionysus, cursed Priapus while he was still in Aphrodite's womb. The boy was destined to be ugly, mean and suffer from erectile dysfunction. Although he was filled with lust, he would never be able to maintain an erection during intercourse.
The gods sent Priapus to earth where he was raised by shepherds. He later attempted to rape the goddess Hestia, but a donkey screamed and freed him from his erection. He also tried to rape a woman named Lotis, but the gods turned her into a plant.
Later, a cult of worship arose around Priapus and his father Dionysus. Priapus became a god of fertility as well as a protector of cattle, arable land, and fruit. Followers of Priapic's cult often depict him with a huge penis that is permanently erect.
12. Abduction of the aura
Aura was the goddess of the breeze and daughter of Boreas, the North Wind or Titan Lelantos. She was a mate of Artemis and totally rejected men and love in general. One day he mocked Artemis by saying that the goddess of the hunt's breasts were round and voluptuous, implying that Artemis was not chaste. In response, Artemis appealed to Nemesis to help her get revenge.
Nemesis unleashed madness on Dionysus and sent him to rape Aura. He drugged her with wine and then raped her in her sleep, causing her to lose her virginity and the pregnancy. After she woke up she didn't know who raped her so she went insane and started killing every man in sight. Upon learning that she was pregnant, she tried to commit suicide but failed.
She gave birth to twins, one of whom was Iacchus. He gave them to a lioness who wouldn't eat them, so Aura threw the other twin in the air and ate the remains. Artemis saved Iacchus. Aura then committed suicide by drowning in a river. Zeus turned it into a well.
In some Orphic stories Iacchus is considered the third Dionysus after Zagreus (son of Persephone) and the Olympian Dionysus. Sometimes Iacchus was also an aspect of Dionysus instead of his son.
Occasionally, instead of Aura, Iacchus' mother was Persephone or Demeter.
What is the most famous myth about Dionysus? ›
Myth: Dionysus was the son of Zeus, King of the Gods, and Semele, a mortal princess of Thebes. The god was known as the “twice-born,” as his mother was slain by the lightning-bolts of Zeus during her pregnancy, the unborn infant was rescued by his father who implanted the infant in his thigh and carried him to term.Did Dionysus love a man? ›
(4) MORTAL LOVES (MEN)
AMPELOS (Ampelus) A handsome young Satyr-boy loved by the god Dionysos.
Ino and her husband, Athamas, raised Dionysus as a girl to try to hide him from Hera's wrath, but Hera was not fooled and caused Ino to go mad. After several mishaps, Ino jumped into the sea, where she became the goddess Leucothea.Who did Dionysus fall in love with? ›
It is here that, according to myth, Ariadne and King Theseus stopped to rest. And where Dionysus fell in love with Ariadne, while she slept.Is Dionysus asexual? ›
In Ancient Greek mythology, Dionysus was the god of collective ecstasy. He is often described as an androgynous and asexual figure, whose followers would dance themselves into trances (Jameson, 1993). Representations of him have evolved over time.What are 2 myths of Dionysus? ›
Like Persephone, Dionysus is associated with vegetation myths (death in winter and resurrection in spring). His festival is celebrated in the spring. In one myth, Dionysus is torn to pieces by the Titans, but born again every three years, restored to a new body.Is Dionysus the god of LGBT? ›
Dionysus has been dubbed "a patron god of hermaphrodites and transvestites" by Roberto C. Ferrari in the 2002 Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Culture. He is referred to as effeminate, which is sometimes linked to his being dressed in girl's clothes during his childhood.Why did Dionysus go mad? ›
Rhea used the parts to bring him back to life and then had him raised by mountain nymphs. Hera soon discovered that Dionysus was still alive. She drove him to madness that caused him to wander the world.Did Dionysus cheat on Ariadne? ›
Ariadne was faithful to Dionysus. Perseus killed her at Argos by turning her to stone with the head of Medusa during Perseus' war with Dionysus. In the Odyssey, it is told that Artemis killed her.How was Dionysus killed? ›
Hera was jealous of the child and convinced the Titans to destroy him. Although Dionysus was disguised as a baby goat, the Titans found him, caught him, and tore him to pieces. They ate all of his body except his heart, which was rescued by Athena .
Who was Dionysus first lover? ›
Dionysus and Ampelos
It was during such happy times that the young god met Ampelos, his first love and perhaps the most important character in the story of Dionysus. Ampelos was a young human (or sometimes a Satyr) from the Phrygian hills.
Dionysus is called twice-born because he was born from Semele and then, while she was dying, Zeus saved him by sewing him up in his thigh and keeping him there until he reached maturity. He then "gave birth" to Dionysus, thus making him twice-born.How many kids did Dionysus have? ›
|Children||Priapus, Hymen, Thoas, Staphylus, Oenopion, Comus, Phthonus, the Graces, Deianira|
|Roman equivalent||Bacchus, Liber|
(1B) WRATH BLASPHEMERS
KADMEIDES (Cadmeides) The daughters of King Kadmos of Thebes (central Greece)--Ino, Agaue and Autonoe--each suffered the death of a son by dismemberment (sparagmos), possibly as punishment for slandering of Semele, mother of Dionysos, following her death.
Dionysus was also endowed with male and female attributes, and his dual nature was celebrated as the sign of his fertility and sexual power.What is a female follower of Dionysus called? ›
maenad, female follower of the Greek god of wine, Dionysus. The word maenad comes from the Greek maenades, meaning “mad” or “demented.” During the orgiastic rites of Dionysus, maenads roamed the mountains and forests performing frenzied, ecstatic dances and were believed to be possessed by the god.Who is the god of asexuality? ›
In Ancient Greek mythology, Dionysus was the god of collective ecstasy. He is often described as an androgynous and asexual figure, whose followers would dance themselves into trances (Jameson, 1993) .How many lovers did Dionysus have? ›
Notes. Dionysus had only one consort but [possibly] many lovers. His consort is Ariadne.Who is Dionysus in Percy Jackson? ›
Jason Mantzoukas is Mr. D / Dionysus In #PercyJackson & The Olympians ⚡️ “Self-described as “100% Greek,” Jason is the perfect guy to inhabit everyone's favorite grumpy wine god and head of camp, Dionysus. He's also an accomplished jazz drummer!” - Rick Riordan.What crime did Dionysus commit? ›
"After Dionysos had demonstrated to the Thebans that he was a god, he went to Argos where again he drove the women mad when the people did not pay him honour, and up in the mountains the women fed on the flesh of the babies suckling at their breasts."
Who does Dionysus hate? ›
Dionysus hates heroes, despite the fact that he himself was one, and his grandfather, Cadmus, was one of the first great heroes along with Perseus and Bellerophon.Who is the Greek god of bisexuality? ›
Apollo appears to be, what we might call today, bisexual.
Apollo was not hung up about whether his lovers were male or female.
He was the son of Zeus and the mortal Semele, making Dionysus semi-device or a hero.Is Dionysus a feminist? ›
As a bisexual god, Dionysus was the patron of women, who were his main devotees, and the stimulator of the maenads' frenzy. Considered as a salient feminist work, Rist's maenad brings to mind the demand for women's liberation.Was Dionysus a drunk? ›
Dionysus is the god of wine and drunken revelry in Greek mythology. He is a patron of the theater and an agricultural/fertility god. He was sometimes at the heart of frenzied madness that led to savage murder. Writers often contrast Dionysus with his half-brother Apollo.What is Dionysus weakness? ›
Strengths: Dionysus is the creator of wine. He also shakes things up when it gets dull. Weaknesses: God of intoxication and drunkenness, states he pursues frequently.Why did Dionysus turn into a lion? ›
After being mistaken for a prince, he was kidnapped and held for ransom. The god turned into a lion and manifested a bear to help him escape. Dionysus escaped the shackles of the ship, making this particular myth synonymous with freedom and liberty.Why did Ariadne hang herself? ›
Some say that she hung herself because she was abandoned by Theseus; others that she was conveyed to Naxos by sailors and there lived with Oinaros (Oenarus) (Of the Wine) the priest of Dionysos, and that she was abandoned by Theseus because he loved another woman . . . Moreover, some say that Ariadne actually had sons ...What did Dionysus do when Ariadne died? ›
Marriage To Dionysus
The two then eventually fall in love. After Ariadne died, Dionysus traveled to the Underworld and brought her back to life to be his immortal wife. He deified her as the Goddess of Paths and Labyrinths.
In the Camp Half-Blood series, she appears in Percy Jackson's Greek Gods, Percy Jackson's Greek Heroes and The Titan's Curse.
Did Zeus give birth to Dionysus? ›
Zeus Rescues the Unborn Dionysus
Instead of let his unborn son perish along with Semele, however, Zeus rescued the unborn baby and sewed him onto his leg. Dionysus was born a few days later while he was attached to Zeus's body. Dionysus was officially born on Mount Pramnos on Ikaria.
He was depicted as either an older, bearded god or an effeminate, long-haired youth. His attributes included the thyrsos (a pine-cone tipped staff), a drinking cup and a crown of ivy. He was usually accompanied by a troop of Satyrs and Mainades (wild female devotees).Did Dionysus have a wife? ›
Dionysus takes Ariadne to Olympia and marries her; and he presents her the crown which will later become a star in the sky4.Who killed Dionysus mother? ›
Zeus, revealing himself in his full thunder-bolting glory, killed the frail human Semele. Before her body was cold, Zeus had snatched from it the six-month unborn child and sewed it into his thigh. When the thigh-sewn child was born, he was named Dionysus.Did Dionysus and Aphrodite have kids? ›
PRIAPOS (Priapus) The god of garden fertility. He was the son of Dionysos and Aphrodite or a Naiad Nymph.Does Aphrodite like Dionysus? ›
The gods were lovers, so it's fitting their statues were close. According to Greek mythology, the deities Aphrodite and Dionysus had a grand love affair.Who did Zeus cheat on his wife? ›
Zeus fell in love with Io and seduced her. To try to keep Hera from noticing he covered the world with a thick blanket of clouds. This backfired, arousing Hera's suspicions. She came down from Mount Olympus and begain dispersing the clouds.Why did Zeus swallow his wife? ›
In some versions of Greek mythology, Zeus ate his wife Metis because it was known that their second child would be more powerful than him. After Metis's demise, their first child Athena was born when Hephaestus cleaved Zeus's head open and the goddess of war emerged, fully grown and armed.Who punished Dionysus? ›
Dionysus, the god of wine, prophecy, religious ecstasy, and fertility, returns to his birthplace in Thebes in order to clear his mother's name and to punish the insolent city state for refusing to allow people to worship him.What was Dionysus famous for? ›
Dionysus was the great liberator through wine and he would free men of their inhibitions and their very selves. Even in today's culture you will often hear people apologizing for “not being themselves” after a night that would make Dionysus proud. The wine affects not only inhibitions, it also affects sight.
What was Dionysus known for? ›
Originally Dionysus was the Greek god of fertility. Later, he came to be known chiefly as the god of wine and pleasure. The Romans called him Bacchus.What is an interesting fact about Dionysus? ›
Dionysus was a happy god during the harvest, but during the winter he languished along with the rest of the Earth. Dionysus was the last god to enter Olympus. Dionysus was the son of Zeus and the Theban princess Semele. He was the only god who had a mortal parent.What is Dionysus symbol? ›
|Animals||Bull, panther, tiger or lion, goat, snake|
|Symbol||Thyrsus, grapevine, ivy, theatrical masks, phallus|
|Festivals||Bacchanalia (Roman), Dionysia|
Alcokinesis: As the god of wine, Dionysus can manipulate alcohol. However, in the first series he is not allowed to partake in alcohol, with Zeus stripping him of this ability.Is Dionysus drunk? ›
Dionysus is the god of wine and drunken revelry in Greek mythology. He is a patron of the theater and an agricultural/fertility god. He was sometimes at the heart of frenzied madness that led to savage murder. Writers often contrast Dionysus with his half-brother Apollo.What color represents Dionysus? ›
Dionysus. Black, Red, and Green: Dionysus is a fertility god and the god of wine. He is the Greek version of Baldr in that he dies and is reborn.What were the 12 main gods called? ›
Zeus, Poseidon, Hera, Hestia and Demeter, Hades, and later on Apollo, Artemis, Hermes, Athena, Hephaestus, Aphrodite and Ares. Over the years, the Demi-god Dionysus became part of their group on Olympus. It is very common to refer to the Greek pantheon as “the 12 Olympian Gods”.Why is Dionysus insane? ›
When Ampelus died in a bull-riding accident, his body changed into a grape vine, and it was from this vine that Dionysus first made wine. Meanwhile, Hera had found out that Dionysus was still alive, and she began hounding him again, driving him to the brink of insanity.What does Dionysus teach us? ›
Many Greeks believed that Dionysus taught people farming techniques, especially those related to viticulture (the cultivation of grapes) and making wine. The Greeks also dedicated the great theater in Athens to Dionysus. Their concept of tragedy in drama grew from a ceremony that honored Dionysus.