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A Deity Encyclopedia


Aphrodite | Artemis | Athena | Baba Yaga | Brigid | Demeter | Dionysus/Bacchus | Eostre/Ostara | Eros/Cupid | The Green Man | The Holly King | Lugh | Maia | The Oak King | Persephone


pronounced dye-uh-nye-suhs

Stats & Facts

Dionysus is the God of the Vine.
Dionysus' name means "twice born" or "child of the double door."
Many city-states outlawed the wild, orgiastic rites of Dionysus.
Dionysus' Roman name is Bacchus.

Bacchus (Dionysus), the god of wine, was the son of Zeus (Jupiter) and Semele. He represents not only the intoxicating power of wine, but its social and beneficent influences likewise, so that he is viewed as the promoter of civilization, and a lawgiver and lover of peace.
He had a dual nature. On one hand, he brought joy and divine ecstasy. On the other hand, he brought brutality, thoughtlessness and rage. This reflected both sides of wine's nature. If he chooses, Dionysus can drive a man mad. No normal fetters can hold him or his followers.

Dionysus was born to Zeus and Semele. Hera, of course being jealous, convinced Semele to ask Zeus if she could see him in all his glory. She burned to death at the sight, and Hermes saved the unborn baby and sewed it up inside Zeus' thigh. Hermes delivered him at full term, after which the Titans ripped the baby to shreds and boiled his remains, on Hera's orders. Rhea rescued his remains and reconstituted him. He was eventually given to a king and his wife, who raised him as a girl. When Hera recognized him, Zeus changed him into a ram. Eventually, as he came more popular in worship, Hestia gave up her place on Olympus so Dionysus could sit at the right hand of Zeus. Once there, he went to Tartarus and pleaded with Persephone to release his mother. He then took her to Troezen where she became a priestess in Artemis' temple.

Lovers & Children
Dionysus is said to have slept with Aphrodite, and the result was Priapus, an ugly child with enormous genatalia whose disfigurement was caused by Hera, who disapproved of Aphrodite's promiscuity.

Dionysus married Ariadne, whom Theseus left stranded on the island of Naxos. He felt pity for her and eventually fell in love with her. When she died, he placed her crown among the stars.
State of Euphoria
Dionysus, who invented wine, appears in numerous myths, and it is probable that the "illness" he inflicted on mythological characters might have been related to wine. He was worshipped by the Centaurs, and accompanied by Satyrs and Maenads, women who always seemed to be mad with joy.

Travelin' Man
When he was grown, Dionysus wandered to many foreign lands, such as Egypt, India, and Persia, teaching the mysteries of his worship and the culture of the vine. When he returned to his country of Greece, the people weren't quite as accepting of his ways.

In one myth, Dionysus was standing on the shore, looking gorgeous I'm sure, when a Greek pirate ship spotted him. They assumed he was a prince or something and decided to abduct him for ransom. What a mistake! Once onboard, no ropes or chains were able to hold Dionysus...they fell off instantly. The pirates then realized that he must be a God. But it was too late. Vines began to grow, wine began to flow, and Dionysus transformed himself into a lion. At that, the whole crew threw themselves overboard and were turned into dolphins.

Attributes. Usually bearded and cloaked, holding a kantharos or rhyton filled with wine, is often shown with grape vines and/or ivy, and with panthers. He may be alone, or together with his thiasos: satyrs and maenads (bacchantes). Grecian
The Greeks brought wine near and far, to Italy and the Black Sea, during the Days of Wine in Ancient Greece. The god Dionysus looked over these events, and his cult wielded a lot of power. There were huge festivals in Athens called Dionysia, and a three day feast each year in the spring to celebrate the broaching of new wine. These festivals can track back to before 1000 BC. Dionysus was, in some legends, the god who brought wine to mankind. The cult surrounding Dionysus was one of surrender of personal identity. Participants often wore masks - wine was thought to bring out both the best and worst of a person. Dionysus was a god of many faces. His symbols were the bull and pine trees, and he was usually followed in legend by satyrs and maenads - women worshippers.


Winter squalls are drained out of the sky, The violet season of flowering spring smiles, The black earth glitters under green lawns, Swelling plants pop open with tiny petals, Meadows laugh and suck the morning dew, While the rose unfolds.
The shepherd in the hills Happily blows the top notes of his pipe, The goatherd gloats over his white kids. Sailors race across the thrashing waves, Their canvas full of the harmless breeze. Drinkers acclaim the grape-giver Dionysos, Capping their hair with flowering ivy.