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The Greek God Dionysus Essay

436 words - 2 pages

Dionysos is the son of Zeus, chief of the Olympians, and Semele, a woman of Thebes, according to the most used geneology. Dionysos is the god of wine and madness, vegetation, and the theatre, and was the focus of various mystery cults (which were not, perhaps, exactly cults, but let's not get into that).Oh, Thebes, nurse of Semele, crown your hair with ivy! Grow green with bryony! Redden with berries! O city, with boughs of oak and fir, come dance the dance of god! Fringe your skins of dappled fawn with tufts of ...view middle of the document...

His role as vegetation deity is obvious; he introduced the grapevine and taught the secrets of its cultivation and of fermenting wine. He is also associated with the fir tree and with ivy-- his symbol the thrysus, which his worshippers carry, is a branch or stalk of fennel tipped with ivy leaves or sometimes a pine cone. He is often paired with Demeter, goddess of grain.Water is also a part of Dionysos's domain. The myth of Lycurgus, related in the Iliad, tells how a young Dionysos and his foster mothers were attacked and chased by the impious Lycurgus. Dionysos fled into the sea and was sheltered by Thetis. The god is also a sailor; there is a myth which tells how he was once kidnapped by pirates and taken aboard a boat. The god then turned the pirates into dolphins. The sea is a refuge for Dionysos. Water, according to W. F. Otto, is the element in which Dionysos feels at home, as like him it betrays a dual nature: being bright, joyous, and vital for life, while also having a side that is dark, mysterious and deadly.

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