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Greek Mythology


Greek god Dionysus holding a wine cup
Dionysus by Psiax

History >> Ancient Greece >> Greek Mythology

God of: Wine, theater, and fertility
Symbols: Grapevine, drinking cup, ivy
Parents: Zeus and Semele
Children: Priapus, Maron
Spouse: Ariadne
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's Revenge

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
Activities For more about Ancient Greece:

Timeline of Ancient Greece
The City of Athens
Minoans and Mycenaeans
Greek City-states
Peloponnesian War
Persian Wars
Decline and Fall
Legacy of Ancient Greece
Glossary and Terms

Arts and Culture
Ancient Greek Art
Drama and Theater
Olympic Games
Government of Ancient Greece
Greek Alphabet

Daily Life
Daily Lives of the Ancient Greeks
Typical Greek Town
Women in Greece
Science and Technology
Soldiers and War

Alexander the Great
25 Famous Greek People
Greek Philosophers

Greek Mythology
Greek Gods and Mythology
Monsters of Greek Mythology
The Titans
The Iliad
The Odyssey

The Olympian Gods

Works Cited

History >> Ancient Greece >> Greek Mythology

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