MONDAY – February 3, 2014
• His appearance:
o He had a slender, youthful appearance (although his physical appearance
was very similar toApollo, he had more of a feminine appearance)
o He’s often seen leaning on a vine (grape vine)
o Apollonian and Dionysian
o Both gods of music
Apollo associated more with the opera – calm, settle
Dionysus associated more with raves, concerts – dancing, letting
• He was the god of wine. He was also related to the growth of the earth, wine
making and wine drinking. He was a very passionate god.
• Europa attracted the attention of Zeus. He disguised himself as a white bull and
abducted her to the island of Crete
• She had a brother named Cadmus who was sent by their father (Agenor of Tyre)
to find her in the Greek world. He went to Delphi to visit the oracle of Apollo. He
asked the oracle where his sister was and what he should do.
• The Pythia went into her trance and told him to forgot about his sister and
abandon the quest.
• She went on to tell him about a new quest she should embark on. He was to find a
sacred cow and wherever the cow laid down he must build a city
o He would know it was “the cow” by the half moon birthmark it had. He
followed the cow to Boeotia, sacrificed it cow and built the city.
• He had found the city of Thebes, a city in Boeotia, central Greece.
• Semele was a woman who was very beautiful who lived in Thebes
• Zeus seduced Semele and of course Hera went ragging and was very furious.
• She punished Semele
o she appeared to her as an old woman and tricked Semele (young girls were
believed to be naïve and easily tricked) into getting Zeus to reveal his true
o Hera knew that Zeus was so glorious and magnificent that no human could
look at him with their bare eyes (hence the reason why he always
disguises himself). With reluctance Zeus showed his true form and Semele
went bursting into flames.
o Howver, Zeus realized she was pregnant so he plucked out the developing
child from the womb (likeApollo did) and sewed the child into his thigh
o Wine crater – mixing bowl used to dilute wine with water. The Greeks
diluted their wine. The Macedonian were the only ones that drank
o Dimetor Birth of Dionysus/Zagreus (another version)
• He was not born from Semele he was born from Persephone
• Hera was very jealous of the child so she wanted him to die
o Hera lured him with toys and had him murdered by the Titans; they ripped
his body a part and ate him.
o Zeus however saved Dionysus’ heart which is what was sown to his leg
and he was reborn
o Due to his anger, Zeus blasted all the titans with his thunderbolt and used
the ashes to create human
o This is why Greeks believed humans could be corrupt as they were made
from the ashes of the Titans but due to the fact that they consumed the
body of baby humans could be noble.
• Young Dionysus was given into the custody of Hermes who then gave the young
child to Ino (Semele’s sister) and of group of nymphs
• He was raised away from Greeks. He was raised in Nysa (perhaps India,
somewhere in the East)
• He was raised in the East and brought back with him to Greece the knowledge of
grapes and its growth
o He is often shown in the company of animals that are not common in the
Greece world such as cheetahs, jaguars not eagles.
o He is also seen in the company of nymphs
• His is associated with being the god that allowed the Greeks to release the tension
they had from their orderly lives by drinking and having fun.
o Music is associated with his worship
o Thyrsus – a long staff
o Omophagy – a ritual (drinking, dancing, eating) where they would throw
an animal into the middle, rip the animal to pieces with their bare hands
and eat the flesh
o They also, surrounded themselves with satyrs who would sometimes get
out of control with their excessive drinking and would have affairs with
His affairs and such
o Dionysus was associated withAriande,
o Ariande helped Thesus kill the minotaur. She gave him the sword and told
him how to get out of the maze. She gave him a ball of string to attach to
the door of the labyrinth. o Thesus abandoned her on the island of Naxos where she wept until she
was saved by the arrival of Dionysus.
• Dionysus was abducted by pirates (mistaken for a girl)
o Those who did not except him as a god jumped in the ocean and turned
into dolphins. Those who did except him, he brought them happiness and
peace. Considered to be the first “salvation” god.
o SIDE NOTE: Julius Caesar was also abducted by pirates. He
demanded that they ask his parents for more ransom money. When
they let him go, he told them that he would be back to kill them. He
found them, crucified all the pirates and he had all their legs broken.
• The people of Thebes had been ridiculing Dionysus’ mother saying she didn’t
really have sex with a god.
• Also, because of King Pentheus’ persuasion the people of city did not want to
worship Dionysus, they refused him.
• To punish King Pentheus for refusing his divinity
o Dionysus appeared to King Pentheus in a disguise and went on to tell him
how the people who worshiped Dionysus essentially were very sexual and
o Of course he wanted to see for himself, so Dionysus handed him the skin
of a deer and told him to hide in the woods so he could spy on the
o The Maenads mistaked him for an animal and commenced the omophagy
ritual. They stuck his head on a stick and paraded into town.
o The Bacchae is the tragedy based on this mythological story
• Dionysus and Midas
o Dionysus was always surrounded by a lot of drunken people. In particular
Silenus (a fat drunk man). In a drunken stupor, he went into Midas’(the
guy with the ears of a donkey) temple and passed out.
o Midas found him the next day and returned him to Dionysus but Dionysus
knew that Midas was only returning him for his own benefit, his own
o He wished to Dionysus so that everything he ever touched would turn into
gold. EVERYTHING, not just things he wished to turn to gold. His
daughter and his food all turned into gold.
o He went back to Dionysus and said he learned his lesson. Unlike other
gods would give that person their wish for all eternity, Dionysus told him
to go down to Pactolus river and wash his mistake off.
• Pan Syrinx - he chased her and eventually she was turn into reeds) • Echo – she was an annoying nymph. Hera cursed her so that she could only repeat
the words of other.
• Narcissus - a young beautiful man who was in love with his own beauty and
rejected the possibility of loving others. One day, h