81 Facts About Dionysus


Dionysus's origins are uncertain, and his cults took many forms; some are described by ancient sources as Thracian, others as Greek.

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Festivals of Dionysus included the performance of sacred dramas enacting his myths, the initial driving force behind the development of theatre in Western culture.

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The cult of Dionysus is a "cult of the souls"; his maenads feed the dead through blood-offerings, and he acts as a divine communicant between the living and the dead.

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Dionysus suggested that the male form is and this would make Dionysus the "son of Zeus".

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Nonnus, in his Dionysiaca, writes that the name Dionysus means "Zeus-limp" and that Hermes named the new born Dionysus this, "because Zeus while he carried his burden lifted one foot with a limp from the weight of his thigh, and nysos in Syracusan language means limping".

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The Suda, a Byzantine encyclopedia based on classical sources, states that Dionysus was so named "from accomplishing [d?a??e??] for each of those who live the wild life.

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However, more recent evidence has shown that Dionysus was in fact one of the earliest gods attested in mainland Greek culture.

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The earliest written records of Dionysus worship come from Mycenaean Greece, specifically in and around the Palace of Nestor in Pylos, dated to around 1300 BC.

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The oldest known image of Dionysus, accompanied by his name, is found on a dinos by the Attic potter Sophilos around 570 BC and is located in the British Museum.

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Bassareus, ?assa?e?? a Thracian name for Dionysus, which derives from bassaris or "fox-skin", which item was worn by his cultists in their mysteries.

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Dionysus worship became firmly established by the seventh century BC.

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The Rural Dionysia was one of the oldest festivals dedicated to Dionysus, begun in Attica, and probably celebrated the cultivation of vines.

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The procession of the City Dionysia was similar to that of the rural celebrations, but more elaborate, and led by participants carrying a wooden statue of Dionysus, and including sacrificial bulls and ornately dressed choruses.

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Religion of Dionysus often included rituals involving the sacrifice of goats or bulls, and at least some participants and dancers wore wooden masks associated with the god.

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The significance of masks and goats to the worship of Dionysus seems to date back to the earliest days of his worship, and these symbols have been found together at a Minoan tomb near Phaistos in Crete.

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In particular, Iacchus was identified with the Orphic Dionysus, who was a son of Persephone.

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Sophocles mentions "Iacchus of the bull's horns", and according to the first-century BC historian Diodorus Siculus, it was this older Dionysus who was represented in paintings and sculptures with horns, because he "excelled in sagacity and was the first to attempt the yoking of oxen and by their aid to effect the sowing of the seed".

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Dionysus was the patron god of the Orphics, who they connected to death and immortality, and he symbolized the one who guides the process of reincarnation.

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The earliest definitive reference to the belief that Zagreus is another name for the Orphic Dionysus is found in the late first century writings of Plutarch.

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Cicero insisted on the "non-identity of Liber and Dionysus" and described Liber and Libera as children of Ceres.

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Dionysus was a patron deity and founding hero at Leptis Magna, birthplace of the emperor Septimius Severus, who promoted his cult.

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Dionysus was one of the most popular deities, alongside deities like Venus and Flora.

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Dionysus declared himself High Priest, and added local drunks to the list of membership.

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Dionysus maintained that those who died as members would go to a Bacchanalia for their afterlife.

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Plutarch described his belief that Osiris and Dionysus were identical, stating that anyone familiar with the secret rituals associated with both gods would recognize obvious parallels, and that their dismemberment myths and associated public symbols are enough additional evidence that they are the same god worshiped by two different cultures.

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Dionysus-Osiris was particularly popular in Ptolemaic Egypt, as the Ptolemies claimed descent from Dionysus, and as Pharaoes they had claim to the lineage of Osiris.

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Evidence for a cult connection is quite extensive, particularly in southern Italy, especially when considering the heavy involvement of death symbolism included in Dionysian worship; statues of Dionysus found in the Ploutonion at Eleusis gives further evidence as the statues found bear a striking resemblance to the statue of Eubouleus, called Aides Kyanochaites, known as the youthful depiction of the Lord of the Underworld.

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The statue of Eubouleus is described as being radiant but disclosing a strange inner darkness Ancient portrayals show Dionysus holding in his hand the kantharos, a wine-jar with large handles, and occupying the place where one would expect to see Hades.

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Dionysus shared several epithets with Hades such as Chthonios, Eubouleus and Euclius.

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Zeus, like Dionysus, was occasionally believed to have an underworld form, closely identified with Hades, to the point that they were occasionally thought of as the same god.

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Dionysus acquired this form of address from the rite pertaining to him; for the barbarians call the bacchic cry "sabazein".

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Strabo's Sicilian contemporary, Diodorus Siculus, conflated Sabazios with the secret Dionysus, born of Zeus and Persephone, However, this connection is not supported by any surviving inscriptions, which are entirely to Zeus Sabazios.

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Dionysus's worshipers were said to have honored him for this by depicting him with horns.

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The myth of the dismemberment of Dionysus was alluded to as early as the fourth century BC by Plato in his Phaedo, in which Socrates claims that the initiations of the Dionysian Mysteries are similar to those of the philosophic path.

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The dismemberment of Dionysus is often considered to be the most important myth of Orphism.

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Zeus intended Dionysus to be his successor as ruler of the cosmos, but a jealous Hera incited the Titans to kill the child.

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Diodorus relates that Dionysus is the son of Zeus and Demeter, the goddess of agriculture, and that his birth narrative is an allegory for the generative power of the gods at work in nature.

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Diodorus noted the symbolism this myth held for its adherents: Dionysus, god of the vine, was born from the gods of the rain and the earth.

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Dionysus was torn apart and boiled by the sons of Gaia, or "earth born", symbolizing the harvesting and wine-making process.

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Just as the remains of the bare vines are returned to the earth to restore its fruitfulness, the remains of the young Dionysus were returned to Demeter allowing him to be born again.

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Dionysus sent a bird to bring him one of the fruits, and sewed it into his thigh, so that he would be both mother and father to the new Dionysus.

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Dionysus's saw the bull-shaped figure of a man emerge from his thigh, and then came to the realization that she herself had been the tree.

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Dionysus's dressed herself in garlands of flowers and wreathes of ivy, and would run barefoot to the meadows and forests to frolic whenever she heard music.

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Dionysus's went to Semele in the guise of an old woman who had been Cadmus' wet nurse.

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Dionysus's made Semele jealous of the attention Zeus gave to Hera, compared with their own brief liaison, and provoked her to request Zeus to appear before her in his full godhood.

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Dionysus grew famous due to his skill in the arts, his beauty, and his strength.

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Dionysus's fame brought him to the attention of Rhea, who was furious with Ammon for his deception.

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Dionysus's attempted to bring Dionysus under her own power but, unable to do so, she left Ammon and married Cronus.

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The birth of Dionysus, Julian argues, was "no birth but a divine manifestation" to Semele, who foresaw that a physical manifestation of the god Dionysus would soon appear.

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Dionysus in Greek mythology is a god of foreign origin, and while Mount Nysa is a mythological location, it is invariably set far away to the east or to the south.

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Young Dionysus was said to have been one of the many famous pupils of the centaur Chiron.

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When Dionysus grew up, he discovered the culture of the vine and the mode of extracting its precious juice, being the first to do so; but Hera struck him with madness, and drove him forth a wanderer through various parts of the earth.

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Dionysus undertook efforts to introduce his religion into Greece, but was opposed by rulers who feared it, on account of the disorders and madness it brought with it.

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Dionysus uses his divine powers to drive Pentheus insane, then invites him to spy on the ecstatic rituals of the Maenads, in the woods of Mount Cithaeron.

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The Maenads spot him; maddened by Dionysus, they take him to be a mountain-dwelling lion, and attack him with their bare hands.

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Dionysus arrives in his true, divine form, banishes Agave and her sisters, and transforms Cadmus and his wife Harmonia into serpents.

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Dionysus fled and took refuge with Thetis, and sent a drought which stirred the people to revolt.

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Dionysus renamed his mother Thyone, and ascended with her to heaven, where she became a goddess.

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Dionysus discovered that his old school master and foster father, Silenus, had gone missing.

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Dionysus consented, though was sorry that he had not made a better choice.

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Dionysus touched and turned to gold an oak twig and a stone, but his joy vanished when he found that his bread, meat, and wine turned to gold.

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When Hephaestus bound Hera to a magical chair, Dionysus got him drunk and brought him back to Olympus after he passed out.

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Dionysus's bore him a son named Oenopion, but he committed suicide or was killed by Perseus.

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Callirrhoe was a Calydonian woman who scorned Coresus, a priest of Dionysus, who threatened to afflict all the women of Calydon with insanity.

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Dionysus sent a fox that was fated never to be caught on Thebes.

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Dionysus holds a fennel staff, tipped with a pine-cone and known as a thyrsus.

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Dionysus's procession is made up of wild female followers (maenads) and bearded satyrs with erect penises; some are armed with the thyrsus, some dance or play music.

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Dionysus is represented by city religions as the protector of those who do not belong to conventional society and he thus symbolizes the chaotic, dangerous and unexpected, everything which escapes human reason and which can only be attributed to the unforeseeable action of the gods.

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Dionysus was a god of resurrection and he was strongly linked to the bull.

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Walter Burkert relates, "Quite frequently [Dionysus] is portrayed with bull horns, and in Kyzikos he has a tauromorphic image", and refers to an archaic myth in which Dionysus is slaughtered as a bull calf and impiously eaten by the Titans.

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Dionysus typically wears a panther or leopard skin and carries a thyrsus.

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Cult of Dionysus was closely associated with trees, specifically the fig tree, and some of his bynames exhibit this, such as "he in the tree" or, "he of the tree".

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Dionysus is closely associated with the transition between summer and autumn.

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Dionysus appealed to the Hellenistic monarchies for a number of reasons, apart from merely being a god of pleasure: He was a human who became divine, he came from, and had conquered, the East, exemplified a lifestyle of display and magnificence with his mortal followers, and was often regarded as an ancestor.

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Dionysus continued to appeal to the rich of Imperial Rome, who populated their gardens with Dionysian sculpture, and by the second century AD were often buried in sarcophagi carved with crowded scenes of Bacchus and his entourage.

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Dionysus has remained an inspiration to artists, philosophers and writers into the modern era.

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In Nietzsche's 1886 work Beyond Good and Evil, and later The Twilight of the Idols, The Antichrist and Ecce Homo, Dionysus is conceived as the embodiment of the unrestrained will to power.

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In 2014, Dionysus is featured in Smite as a playable god under his Roman Bacchus name.

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Also, the manner of death is different; in the most common myth, Dionysus was torn to pieces and eaten by the Titans, but "eventually restored to a new life" from the heart that was left over.

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The discrepancies between the two stories, including their resolutions, have led many scholars to regard the Dionysus story as radically different from the one about Jesus, except for the parallel of the arrest, which is a detail that appears in many biographies as well.

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Dionysus holding an egg and a cock, terracotta from Tanagra, Greece, c 350 BC.

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