Dionysos: God of Wine in Greek Mythology


     Dionysos is the Greek God of Wine and festivals ... In Greek Mythology, Dionysos was represented for being "Emotion", as for Apollo, "Reason". Both always in contrast. Check.

Dionysos in Greek Mythology:

     Dionysos or Bacchus (from the Greek Bakkhos) - not to be confused with Dionysus, the name of the man who means "dedicated to Dionysus" - is in the ancient Greek religion the god of the vital cycles, of the festivals, wine, insanity, theater, religious rites but, above all, intoxication that fuses the drinker with the deity. He was the last god accepted in Olympus, son of Zeus and Princess Semele, he was also the only Olympian son of a mortal, which makes him an atypical Greek deity.

     Dionysus was represented in Greek cities as the protector of those who do not belong to conventional society and, therefore, symbolizes everything that is chaotic, dangerous and unexpected, everything that escapes human reason and that can only be attributed to the unpredictable action of the gods. Dionysus is described as "golden hair" by Hesiod. His Children are: Priapo, Himeneu, Toas, Estófilo, Enopião, Como, Ftono, Graças, Dejanira.

Birth of Dionysos:

     Cadmus, king and founder of Thebes, was married to Harmonia, daughter of Ares and Aphrodite. Cadmo and Harmonia had several children, Autónoe, Ino, Semele, Agave and Polidoro.

     Zeus impregnated Semele, without Hera's knowledge, and promised Semele that she could ask for whatever she wanted; deceived by Hera, she asked Zeus to show himself to her in his real form, as he showed himself to Hera. Unable to refuse, Zeus appears in a chariot of lightning and thunder, and Semele dies, due to the fright; Zeus takes the premature baby of six months, and raises it on his thigh. Semele's sisters, however, said she had become pregnant by a mortal, falsely accusing Zeus of murdering her with lightning.

     When Dionysos was born, Zeus undid the stitches, and gave the baby to Hermes, who gave it to Ino and her husband Atamante, ordering him to be raised as a girl. But Hera made Atamante go crazy, and kill his son Learco, mistaking him for a deer; Ino then killed the other son Melicertes, and threw himself, with the dead son, at the bottom of the sea.

     Zeus, however, deceived Hera, turning Dionysus into a boy, and handed him over to the nymphs who lived in Nisa, Asia; these nymphs, as a prize, were transformed into the stars called Hyads.

     Curiosity: in Etruscan mythology (Etruscan civilization was a race of unknown origin from the northern Italian peninsula that was directly linked to the history of Rome and that would later be integrated into the foundations of the Roman Empire. Many of its deities listed below were also adapted to Roman mythology.) Dionysos was called Fufluns.


     Zeus removed the aborted child from the fire in the sixth month of pregnancy and sewed it on his thigh. At the appropriate time, Zeus undid the stitches and gave birth to Dionysus. He entrusted it to Hermes, who passed it on to Ino, sister of Semele and Athamas, who created them. When Hera learned of Dionysus's location, he made the couple go crazy, causing them to kill themselves and their own children.

     As an adult, even Hera's anger drove Dionysus crazy and he wandered around various parts of the Earth. When he passed through Phrygia, the goddess Cybele healed him and instructed him in his religious rites. Cured, he crosses Asia teaching the grape culture. He was the first to plant and cultivate vines, so the people started to worship him as a god of wine.


     Dionysus great love was Princess Ariadne. He married Ariadne after finding her abandoned by his lover Theseus on the island of Naxos. Dionysus takes her to the mountain called Drius. After that, the two disappeared, and Ariadne was never seen again. However, there are several conflicting versions of the myth. In the version of Pseudo-Apolodoro, Dioniso falls in love with Ariadne, the kidnapper for Lemnos, where she has the children Toas, Estáfilo, Enopião and Pepareto. According to Pausânias, Dionysus and Ariadne were the parents of the hero Céramo; the Athenian district of Ceramic has this name due to Céramo.

Roman Mythology:

     In Roman Mythology, Dionysos became Bacchus, who turns into a lion to fight and devour the giants that climbed the sky and was later considered by Zeus as the most powerful of the gods.

     It is usually depicted in the form of a beardless, laughing and festive young man, with long flowing blond hair, with a bunch of grapes or a cup in one hand and a torso (a dart) decorated with foliage and ribbons. His body is covered with a cloak of lion or leopard skin, he wears a crown of headdresses on his head, and he drives a chariot taken by lions.

     He can also be represented sitting on a vat, with a glass in his hand, overflowing with generous wine, where he absorbs the drunkenness that makes him stagger. They were consecrated to him: the magpie, the goat and the hare.

Dionysos Cult:

     The religious rites dedicated to Dionysus were known as the Dionysian mysteries. They usually involved toxic agents, mostly wine, to induce trances that eradicated inhibitions. The Cult of Dionysus was based on rituals, but there is very little concrete information about most of them. It is known that the rites focused on a death-rebirth theme and that most practitioners were "intruders", that is, foreigners, outlaws, slaves and, especially, women. It is believed that they went into a trance and used rhythmic music in the rites.

     The women who participated in these rituals imitated the conduct of the menades. They performed frantic, ecstatic dances, often around the image of Dionysus. In these dances, women threw their heads back, exposing their throats, rolling their eyes, and screaming like wild animals. They also performed a sacrificial ritual, during which women killed goats, lambs and cattle and devoured their raw meat.

Dionysos and the Theater:

     The development of the Greek Theater originated in the cult given to Dionysos in Athens. The main festival in which the competing tetralogies (three tragedies and one satire) were performed was known as Dionisía Urbana. It was an important annual event for democracy. The theater of Dionysus was located on the southern slope of the Acropolis of Athens, with seats for an audience of 17,000. There were also the dramatic contests of Dionisía Rural and the Lenaia festival, whose name is a synonym for "Ménade". The pieces were also performed at the Antestéria festival, which honored Dionysus as god of wine.

     The actors in the plays executed in honor of Dionysus wear masks, symbols of the immersion of their identity in that of another. This loss of individuality is demonstrated in the theater not only by the masks that the actors wear, but also by the choir. The choir members dance and sing in unison, singing the same words; they have no identity, each is simply an insignificant part of the whole, without individualized will. All individuality and willpower must be offered to Dionysus, when the god so desires.

     It has been suggested that every tragic hero who suffers and dies on stage during the great dramatic festival in Athens, is in fact Dionysus himself to be killed. It was also proposed that the plot of the sacrifice was the original plot of the tragedy, and that the Dionysian festival honored Dionysus by reproducing his death.

     According to the myth, Dionysus ordered his subjects to bring him a drink that would cheer him up and involve all the senses. They brought him different nectars, but Dionysus was not satisfied until they offered the wine.

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