Dionysus by Psiax
Symbols: Grapevine, drinking cup, ivy
Parents: Zeus and Semele
Children: Priapus, Maron
Abode: Mount Olympus
Roman name: Bacchus
Dionysus was a Greek god and one of the Twelve Olympians who lived on Mount Olympus. He was the god of wine, which was a very important part of the culture of ancient Greece. He was the only Olympic god that had one parent that was a mortal (his mother Semele).
How was Dionysus usually pictured?
He was usually shown as young man with long hair. Unlike the other male gods of Mount Olympus, Dionysus wasn't athletic looking. He often wore a crown made of ivy, animal skins or a purple robe, and carried a staff called the thyrsus which had a pine-cone on the end. He had a magical wine cup that was always filled with wine.
What special powers and skills did he have?
Like all of the Twelve Olympians, Dionysus was an immortal and powerful god. He had special powers of making wine and causing vines to grow. He could also transform himself into animals such as a bull or a lion. One of his special powers was the ability to drive mortals insane.
Birth of Dionysus
Dionysus is unique among the Olympic gods in that one of his parents, his mother Semele, was a mortal. When Semele became pregnant by Zeus, Hera (Zeus' wife) became very jealous. She tricked Semele into looking at Zeus in his godly form. Semele was immediately destroyed. Zeus was able to save the child by sewing Dionysus into his thigh.
Hera was angry that the boy Dionysus had survived. She had the Titans attack him and rip him to shreds. Some of the parts were rescued by his grandmother Rhea. 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. He traveled throughout the world teaching people how to make wine from grapes. Eventually, Dionysus regained his sanity and was accepted by the Olympic gods, including Hera, into Mount Olympus.
Ariadne was a mortal princess who had been abandoned on the island of Naxos by the hero Theseus. She was very sad and was told by Aphrodite, the goddess of love, that she would someday meet her true love. Soon Dionysus arrived and the two fell madly in love and were married.
Interesting Facts About the Greek God Dionysus
- It was Dionysus who granted King Midas the power to turn anything he touched into gold.
- Dionysus had the power to restore life to the dead. He went to the Underworld and brought his mother Semele up to the sky and Mount Olympus.
- He was a student of the famous centaur Chiron who taught him how to dance.
- The common names Dennis and Denise are said to be derived from Dionysus.
- The ancient Theatre of Dionysus in Athens could seat as many as 17,000 spectators.
- Greek theatre began as part of the celebration during the Festival of Dionysus.
- Sometimes Hestia is included in the Twelve Olympians instead of Dionysus.
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