Mythman's Major Olympian Gods



Baby Dionysus

Hermes Delivering Baby
Bacchus to the Nymphs


Dionysus was the god of the vine. He invented wine on Mount Nysa and spread the art of tending grapes around the world.

Dionysus was one of the most influential deities of the ancient Olympians, and If he chose to do so, the god of wine could drive a person mad - no normal constraints could hold him or his followers.

There are various accounts of his parentage, but the most widely accepted one holds that Dionysus was the son of Zeus and the mortal Semele. Zeus fell in love with Semele and came to her in the night, invisible, felt only as a divine presence.

Semele was pleased to be a lover of a god, even though she did not know which one exactly. Word soon got around and Hera, wife to Zeus, quickly realized who was responsible for the seduction of this mortal woman.

Hera went to Semele disguised as her trusted nurse, Beroe (or some say as her old neighbor) and convinced her she should see her lover as he really was, just to prove that he wasn't a monster, but truly a god.

When Zeus next came to visit her, Semele made him promise to grant her one wish. She was clever and thus made him swear on the River Styx that he would grant her request, an oath that could not be broken without severe penalty.

Zeus was madly in love and agreed to grant anything she wished for. She then asked him to show her his true form. Zeus was very displeased with this request, for he knew what would happen but Semele was very insistent and told Zeus that he could not see her anymore unless he granted her wish.

Zeus was furious, but since he had sworn by the River Styx, he had no choice but to comply. He appeared in his true form, flashing lightning and thunder, and Semele was instantly burnt to death by the sight of his divine glory.

As Semele was dying Hermes, the Olympian messenger god and Zeus' able assistant, did manage to rescue Dionysus and stitched the premature baby into the thigh of Zeus to hold him until he was ready to be born.

His birth from Zeus alone, without his mortal mother, conferred immortality upon him. Later Dionysus brought Semele up from the Underworld, gave her the name Thyone, and ascended with his mother to Mount Olympus, where she was made immortal by Zeus.

Dionysus' problems with Hera were not yet over. She was still jealous and arranged for the Titans to kill him. The Titans seized the newborn son of Zeus and, despite the fact that he transformed himself repeatedly to evade them, they captured Dionysus and tore him into shreds.

A pomegranate tree sprouted from the soil where his blood had fallen. The Titans boiled the pieces in a cauldron, and Hera thought that Dionysus had perished, but Rhea, mother of Zeus, reconstituted the pieces and brought him back to life.

Dionysus continues on page two!


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