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Dionysus was the god of wine, agriculture, madness, and fertility; he is considered patron god of the arts. His demeanor is often accounted as two-sided: sometimes joyful, vivacious, festive, and bringing forth ecstasy; other times he is enraged, merciless, and bitter. These differences reflect the two sides that alcohol can bring out in a person.[1] The art of grape growing and wine making is said to be a reflection of Dionysus' movement and actions.[2]
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His Origin

Dionysus is the son of the god Zeus, and the mortal Semele. Hera, Zeus's wife, was incredibly jealous of her husband's mortal lover. Zeus always came to Semele in human form and had to take his word for it that he was in fact a god. Hera approached Semele in disguise to convince her to find out which god shared her bed, commanding that he come to her in full divine glory. Semele forced Zeus to promise that he would grant her one wish, because he was so in love with this mortal, he agreed. Semele's wish was to see Zeus, but when he granted her one wish, Semele was essentially burnt to a crisp by Zeus's lightning bolts; she was pregnant with Dionysus at the time. Zeus was able to save Dionysus and sowed him into his thigh for the remainder of the gestation period.[3] Dionysus was born immortal because he came from Zeus's body. Hera was still angered by Dionysus' existence and ordered the Titan's to destroy him. Luckily for Dionysus, Rhea saved him and he was raised in the mountains by nymphs following this incident.[4]
Zeus and Semele
Zeus and Semele

Cult Rituals and Special Powers

Dionysus engaged in cult like activities and encouraged followers with the help of maenads; wild women in a drunken frenzy.
Dionysus was the only god who was able to restore life by rescuing people from the underworld. Against great odds, he was able to retrieve his long dead mother and bring her to Mount Olympus.[5]
Dionysus was able to throw people into fits of ecstasy and self gratification. They often behaved like drunken fools and exhibited poor judgement and rash decision making.
Maenad Cult
Maenad Cult


Sometimes portrayed as a bearded and masculine full grown man. Other portrayals show him as young, dainty, or feminine.[6]
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Grapes and Wine Goblets
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Ariadne and Dionysus
Ariadne and Dionysus


Oenopion and Staphylos[7]

Roman Equivalent


  1. ^ http://www.greekmythology.com/Other_Gods/Dionysus/dionysus.html
  2. ^ http://www.pantheon.org/articles/d/dionysus.html
  3. ^ http://www.pantheon.org/articles/d/dionysus.html
  4. ^ http://www.greekmythology.com/Other_Gods/Dionysus/dionysus.html
  5. ^ http://www.greekmythology.com/Other_Gods/Dionysus/dionysus.html
  6. ^ http://ancienthistory.about.com/cs/grecoromanmyth1/p/Dionysus.htm
  7. ^ http://gogreece.about.com/od/greekmythology/a/mythdionysus.htm