Dionysus is known as the god of fertility and wine in Greek Mythology. He can be depicted as either an elderly man with a gray beard, or a young male that has feminine characteristics such as long hair. He possesses blue eyes and a height of about 5’8”. Dionysus is often seen with a wreath of ivy placed upon his head, and a light staff covered in ivy leaves with a small pinecone on top. His personality consisted of two opposite sides: unthinking rage and anger, and bringing happiness and joy to others. He portrayed great strength, but did not always want to use this factor in violent combat.
After Zeus had revealed his true identity as a god to the mortal Semele, she was instantly killed. Dionysus was in the womb of Semele as she was dying, and Zeus saved his life after asking Hermes to retrieve him. Being born premature, Dionysus was stitched to the thigh of Zeus and remained there until reaching full growth and was ready to be born. It is said that Dionysus was born twice, once in Zeus and the other in Semele. Zeus then gave Dionysus to the mountain nymphs who would protect and raise him. Another story of Dionysus' origin was that he is the child of Zeus and Persophone. Angry of Dionysus' birth, Hera orders the Titans to find him and kill him. His heart is preserved and is used to bring him back to life by Rhea (the Titanis mother of the gods). Zeus then implants the heart in Semele, and again Dionysus is born.
Dionysus was the son of his mortal mother Semele, and his father the god of the sky and ruler of the Olympian gods, Zeus. He was married to a mortal named Ariadne and had 20 children with her. His sons were named Hymenaios, Iakkhos, Priapus, Sabazios, Eurymedon, Keramos, Maron, Narkaios, Oinopion, Peparethos, Phanos, Phliasos, Staphylos, and Thoas. His six daughters were named Methe, Deianeira, Thysa, The Kharites, Pasithea, and Telete. On his father’s side of the family, Dionysus’ grandparents were Kronos and Rhea, and on his mother’s side his grandparents were mortals Camdus and Harmonia.
After Dionysus’ journey to areas outside of Greece to spread the art of winemaking, he was spotted by Tyrrhenian pirates on his way back to his homeland of Thebes. They thought that he could be a son of a king, and that his parents would pay them a great reward if he returned safely. On that note, the pirates captured Dionysus and brought him aboard the ship. They attempted to use rope to tie him to the ship but the ropes would not hold, falling apart when in contact with his body. The helmsman soon realized that this situation could only occur if Dionysus were to be a god. He explained to the crew that they had mistaken and ordered that they let him go. The captain refused to believe this foolish thought and attempted to set the ship assail. The ship did not move and soon became engulfed in vines, as Dionysus turned into a lion chasing the crew, sparing the helmsman. It is said that as the crewman jumped overboard, they transformed into dolphins.
During his travels around the world, Dionysus visited Argos. When he arrived there the people of Argos refused to acknowledge him. This caused him to become very angry and he made the women of the city go mad to such a degree, that they killed their own babies and devoured their flesh. It is also said that Dionysus travelled to Argos from the Agean islands. Once he reached his destination, he fought with Perseus and was defeated. However, he later reconciled with Perseus and the people began to worship Dionysus and built temples in his honor.
Dionysus wandered throughout Northern Africa and Egypt spreading the use of wine, where he was warmly welcomed by King Proteus. After his time in Egypt, Dionysus then travelled through Syria. In the city of Damascus, he punished the people for opposing the introduction of wine, which he is believed to have discovered. After his time in the Middle East, he journeyed throughout Asia. When Dionysus arrived at the Euphrates River, he built a bridge to get across, but then received a tiger from Zeus that carried him across the river.
After gaining permission from his father Zeus to journey to the underworld and bring back his deceased mother Semele, he had began in the land of Argives. Here he met a certain Hyplipnus who was able to show Dionysus the entrance to the underworld. Dionysus left the crown that he had received as a gift from Aphrodite at his descending place, Stephanos. He was concerned that the immortal present from her would become contaminated when having contact with the deceased. Dionysus later returned back with his unharmed mother, and placed the crown amongst the stars as a memorial.
Pentheus, the King of Thebes treated Dionysus with great disrespect. In great spite, Pentheus travelled to Kithairon and climbed into a tree where he spied upon the women. The women soon detected Pentheus and threw him down to the ground. They all began to tear him apart furiously limb by limb. Later, the Pythian priestess ordered the women by oracle to find the tree and honor it equally with the god.
The powerful Lykourgos' son Dyras, lived a short life after his attempt to combat with the gods of the sky, and drove Dionysus' fosterers down the sacred hill of Nyseian. They all dropped their wands and divided them around the land after being threatened by the ox-goad in Lykourgos' hands. Dionysus was frightened and dove into the salt surf and was held by Thetis. The gods became angry with Lykourgos, so Zeus' son struck him to blindness, and he was eventually killed after being hated by the immortals.
Many abilities are affiliated with Dionysus, one being superhuman strength. He is known to rival with his half-brother Ares in lifting, and is capable of carrying 70 tons. He also has the power to transform himself, or others into an animal, object or another person. This power is executed in some of the myths relating to Dionysus and his adventures. Dionysus is one of the few gods to be able to bring a deceased person back from the underworld. It is said that he brought back his mother Semele, and his wife Ariadne. He was also capable of granting magical powers upon someone else, as well as himself. Dionysus is known to have granted Midas the power to turn anything he touched into gold. However he revoked this power after it became a complication for Midas. Dionysus is also said to be able to transport himself anywhere at any time, such as from Olympus to Earth.
· He discovered the origin of the vine and traveled the world teaching others about the craft of wine-making along with Satyrs and Maenads
· Actors, writers and spectators of Greek plays were thought of as servants to Dionysus
· Dionysus was the only god that had a mortal parent
· His sacred animals were the panther and the tiger
· His Roman name was Bacchus
· Many festivals were held in Athens in honor of Dionysus
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