By Bess Fagerstrom

Dionysus Himself
Dionysus was god of wine, agriculture, and fertility of nature. He was the inventor of wine and spread the art of tending grapes. He was known for bringing joy and divine ecstasy, but also brutal, unthinking rage. This reflects both sides of wine’s nature.

Dionysus is the youngest of the gods. He is the only god who has one mortal parent. According to one myth, his father was Zeus and his mother was a mortal woman named Semele. Zeus visited Semele at night and invisible, to Semele only a divine presence. She had become the lover of a god, not knowing which god. Hera found out and was able to convince Semele to find out which god she had become the lover of. Semele was destroyed by Zeus’s presence while Dionysus was still in her womb. Dionysus is rescued by Zeus and then develops in Zeus’s thigh and then is born again. His birth from Zeus gives him immortality.

More Trouble with Hera
Hera was angry at and jealous of
Dionysus and the Leopard
Dionysus. She convinced the titans to kill him. They lured the infant Dionysus with toys and then ripped him to shreds. He was saved by Rhea, who brought him back to life. Zeus then, for the protection of Dionysus, had the mountain nymphs raise him.

His Followers
Dionysus was accompanied by the Maenads, “wild women, flush with wine, shoulders draped with a fawn skin, carrying rods tipped with pine cones” (greekmythology.com). Dionysus’s followers worship him in the woods, unlike other gods that have temples. In the woods, the followers would go into mad states, they would rip apart and eat raw any animal that they would come upon.

Later in Life
Dionysus had never met his mother, Semele. He worried about her though. He went to the underworld in order to find her. Being one of the very few gods that can bring dead people back from the underworld, he returned with his mother to Mount Olympus.

Associations with Every Day Life
Dionysus is associated with rebirth after death because of the titans killing him and Rhea bringing him back to life. This is reflected in the fact that grape vines must be trimmed back and become dormant in the winter in order to bear fruit.

“Dionysus.” Greek Mythology .com. 2005. 04 May 2009. <http://www.greekmythology.com/Other_Gods/Dionysus/dionysus.html>
Gross, Rachel and Grote, Dale. “Dionysus.” Encyclopedia Mythica. 18 Jan. 2007. 03 May 2009. http://www.pantheon.org/articles/d/dionysus.html