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Hermes Delivering Baby
Bacchus to the Nymphs
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DIONYSUS PAGE ONE
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
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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