Young and old, wild and civilized, near and far,
beyond and here-below are joined in him and by him.
Even more, he abolishes the distance that separates
the gods from men and men from animals.
"The god of
the most blessed ecstasy and the most enraptured
But he was also the persecuted god, the suffering
and dying god, and all whom he loved, all who
attended him, had to share his tragic fate"
(Walter F, Otto, 49).
consciously evoked the the archetype of Dionysus
before his tragic death at the age of 27.
"Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that,
fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks
and vanishes. You are free."
like to think of the history of rock & roll like the
origin of Greek drama. That started out on the
threshing floors during the crucial seasons, and was
originally a band of acolytes dancing and singing.
Then, one day, a possessed person jumped out of the
crowd and started imitating a god..."
yourself to your deepest fear, after that the fear
has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and
vanishes, you are free.
"Some of the
worst mistakes in my life have been haircuts,
"Where is the wine we were promised, the new
as if you'll live forever,
live as if you'll die today"
lives on in the culture as a Dionysian like deity
Some Miracles of Dionysos
"Fauns with youthful Bacchus follow;
Ivy crowns that brow, supernal
As the forehead of Apollo,
And possessing youth eternal.
"Round about him fair Bacchantes,
Bearing cymbals, flutes and thyrses,
Wild from Naxian groves of Zante's
Vineyards, sing delirious verses."
"Bacchus that first from out the purple grapes
Crushed the sweet poison of misused wine,
After the Tuscan mariners transformed,
Coasting the Tyrrhene shore as the winds listed
On Circe's island fell; (who knows not Circe,
The daughter of the Sun? whose charmed cup
Whoever tasted lost his upright shape,
And downward fen into a grovelling swine.)"
at line 46
Dionysos, is of Indian origin. Cicero mentions him
as a son of Thyone and Nisus. Dionysos means the god
Dis from Mount Nys in India.... Dionysos is
preeminently the deity on whom were centered all the
hopes for future life; in short, he was the god who
was expected to liberate the souls of men from their
prisons of flesh."
- M. P. Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled
"He is a god of prophecies.
Those whom his spirit fills become possessed
and have clairvoyant powers;
and when he takes a person absolutely,
he mouths the future through that person’s mouth."
The Survival of the Pagan Gods
Greek Gods, Human Lives
Greek Gods and Heroes
Dithyrambs of Dionysus
Gods of Love and Ecstasy
Gods, Goddesses, and Monsters
The Power of Myth
|Dionysus, a late arrival in
the Greek pantheon of deities, nevertheless dominated the
work of artists in his day. The promoter of civilization, a
lawgiver, conqueror, and lover of peace is the patron deity
of both nature and the theater.
Dionysus & maenad 55-79 A.D
holding up a silver cantharus [drinking-cup
and a thyrsus,
symbols of his energy and wine which itself is
symbolic of the process of fermentation and the
spiritization of matter. The use of perspective in
rendering the maenad is remarkable for this time
From Herculaneum National
Archaeological Museum Naples
Although he is best known
today as the Carnival diety, Bacchus, the god of wine, his
role as Lord of Souls and the god who brings us into balance
with the culture's Apollonian affinity continues to act as
inspiration and guide to new generations.
At his most
popular in Greece, his worship inspired cults with dancing
maenad women; the mask, theater as we know it today; the
worship of the vulnerable child; the altered state of being
outside yourself through wild joy or elixirs; the somber
madness and depths of silence; the vine and juices of
nature; and the God's special relation with women,
especially his sole wife Ariadne.
Dionysus or Dionysos (Ancient Greek: Διώνυσος or Διόνυσος;
also known as Bacchus in both Greek and Roman mythology and
associated with the Italic Liber), the Thracian god of wine,
represents not only the intoxicating power of wine, but also
its social and beneficent influences. In the Thracian
mysteries, he wears the "bassaris" or fox-skin, symbolizing
new life. His own rites, the Dionysian Mysteries were the
most enigmatic of all, yet compelling enough that the
Christian church included it in the sacrament of the
Dionysus, the god of vine-growing and
wine-making, was son of Zeus and Semele, daughter of the
Theban king Cadmus. Following the advice of the jealous Hera,
Semele asked her lover to appear in his majesty. The supreme
god of Olympus appeared before the princess surrounded with
glittering lightnings. Semele, caught by the fire, gave
birth to a son and died. Zeus put the baby into his hip
where he grew and got stronger before he was born once
again. Hermes, the messenger of gods, took the baby to
nymphs to be brought up. When Dionysus grew older he
traveled round the Earth, granting vines to people and
teaching them vine-growing.
On the island Naxos Dionysus met his
beloved Ariadne, daughter of the king of Crete, deserted by
Theseus. She became the wife of the god and his priestess.
Dionysus's old wise teacher Silenus and the goatlike
the patron of forests and pastures, were his inseparable
companions. In the suite of Dionysus were also satyrs and
maenads snow leopards, tigers, panthers and goats.
A great many statues and images dedicated to Dionysus survive today. The
earliest of them represent him with beard, long hair, in
long ceremonial clothing. The story of his innocent days
amidst nature, also assure the god of wine-making being
shown as a young boy with a wreath of vines on his head,
with a chalice and a vine-grape in his hands.
on the Boat by Homer
will tell of Dionysus, the son of glorious Semele,
how he appeared on a jutting headland by the
shore of the fruitless sea, seeming like a stripling
in the first flush of manhood: his rich, dark hair
was waving about him, and on his strong shoulders he
wore a purple robe. Presently there came swiftly
over the sparkling sea Tyrsenian (30) pirates on a
well- decked ship -- a miserable doom led them on.
When they saw him they made signs to one another and
sprang out quickly, and seizing him straightway, put
him on board their ship exultingly; for they thought
him the son of heaven-nurtured kings. They sought to
bind him with rude bonds, but the bonds would not
hold him, and the withes fell far away from his
hands and feet: and he sat with a smile in his dark
eyes. Then the helmsman understood all and cried out
at once to his fellows and said:
(ll. 17-24) `Madmen! What god is this whom you have
taken and bind, strong that he is? Not even the
well-built ship can carry him. Surely this is either
Zeus or Apollo who has the silver bow, or Poseidon,
for he looks not like mortal men but like the gods
who dwell on Olympus. Come, then, let us set him
free upon the dark shore at once: do not lay hands
on him, lest he grow angry and stir up dangerous
winds and heavy squalls.'
(ll. 25-31) So said he: but the master chid him with
taunting words: `Madman, mark the wind and help
hoist sail on the ship: catch all the sheets. As for
this fellow we men will see to him: I reckon he is
bound for Egypt or for Cyprus or to the Hyperboreans
or further still. But in the end he will speak out
and tell us his friends and all his wealth and his
brothers, now that providence has thrown him in our
(ll. 32-54) When he had said this, he had mast and
sail hoisted on the ship, and the wind filled the
sail and the crew hauled taut the sheets on either
side. But soon strange things were seen among them.
First of all sweet, fragrant wine ran streaming
throughout all the black ship and a heavenly smell
arose, so that all the seamen were seized with
amazement when they saw it. And all at once a vine
spread out both ways along the top of the sail with
many clusters hanging down from it, and a dark
ivy-plant twined about the mast, blossoming with
flowers, and with rich berries growing on it; and
all the thole-pins were covered with garlands. When
the pirates saw all this, then at last they bade the
helmsman to put the ship to land. But the god
changed into a dreadful lion there on the ship, in
the bows, and roared loudly: amidships also he
showed his wonders and created a shaggy bear which
stood up ravening, while on the forepeak was the
lion glaring fiercely with scowling brows. And so
the sailors fled into the stern and crowded bemused
about the right-minded helmsman, until suddenly the
lion sprang upon the master and seized him; and when
the sailors saw it they leapt out overboard one and
all into the bright sea, escaping from a miserable
fate, and were changed into dolphins. But on the
helmsman Dionysus had mercy and held him back and
made him altogether happy, saying to him:
(ll. 55-57) `Take courage, good...; you have found
favour with my heart. I am loud-crying Dionysus whom
Cadmus' daughter Semele bare of union with Zeus.'
(ll. 58-59) Hail, child of fair-faced Semele! He who
forgets you can in no wise order sweet song.
and the zodiacal sign of Virgo
A Greek myth tells of Icarius, of Athens, who was
instructed by Dionysus in the art of grape growing
and wine making. When he shared wine with the
peasantry they grew drunk and, thinking he had
poisoned them, killed him. To cover up their deed
the drunken peasants buried Icarius under a pine
tree. Erigone went looking for her missing father,
and when she found the grave she hanged herself in
the tree out of grief. The gods placed her in the
sky - the constellation Virgo. The end of the
great age of Virgo
(13,000 BC - 10,860)
is also when the last
ice age ended and humans began the first efforts in
the Mediterranean which many millennium later would
become the first civilizations
St Dionysus (Denys,
Denis or Dennis) is a Christianised form of the
Dionysus. There is actually a number of saints by
this name, the best known being this St Dionysus,
the patron of France (whose feast day the Christian
church set at around the time of the Oschophoria –
October 3 ).
Denys had his head cut off, he did not
care for that,
He took it up and carried it two miles
without his hat.
St Denys was the Apostle to the Gauls, and
patron of France.
He was executed by beheading on the highest hill
near Paris (now Montmartre), [272 or 258 A.D.]
which being the highest hill in the area was also
likely to have been a druidic holy place. The
martyrdom of Denis and his companions gave the name
of Montmartre, in French literally the mountain of
the martyr. According to the Golden Legend, after
his head was chopped off, St Denis picked it up and
walked several miles, all the time preaching a
sermon. The site where he stopped preaching and
actually died was made into a small shrine that
developed into the Saint Denis Basilica, which
became the burial place for the Kings of France.
This walk has led to St Denis being depicted in art
as headless, holding his mitred head in his hands.
Handling the halo in this circumstance offers a
unique challenge for the artist. Some put the halo
where the head used to be; others have St Denis
carrying the halo along with the head.
Dionysus was the last deity to join the
12 Gods of Olympus.
gave up her position as an Olympian to
|Kerenyi traces Dionysus to Minoan Crete, where his
Minoan name is unknown but his characteristic presence is
recognizable. Clearly, Dionysus had been with the Greeks and
their predecessors a long time, and yet always retained the
feel of something alien.
The bull, the serpent, the ivy and wine are the signs of the
characteristic Dionysian atmosphere, infused with the
unquenchable life of the god. Their numinous presence
signifies that the god is near. (Kerenyi 1976). Dionysus is
strongly associated with the satyrs, centaurs and sileni. He
always carries a thyrsus. Besides the grapevine and its wild
barren alter-ego, the toxic ivy plant, both sacred to him,
the fig was also his. The pine cone that tipped his thyrsus
linked him to Cybele, and the pomegranate linked him to
Histories 2:146) was aware that the worship of
Dionysus arrived later among the Greeks than the
Olympian pantheon, for he remarks
is, the Greek story has it that no
sooner was Dionysus born than Zeus sewed
him up in his thigh and carried him away
to Nysa in Ethiopia beyond Egypt; and as
for Pan, the Greeks do not know what
became of him after his birth. It is
therefore plain to me that the Greeks
learned the names of these two gods
later than the names of all the others,
and trace the birth of both to the time
when they gained the knowledge. "
Ariadne, Dionysus, & Komos
To honour the god of fertility of nature, vegetation,
vine-growing and wine-making
ancient Greeks held festivals known as Dionysia (Bacchanalia
in Rome). Performances, representing scenes from the myths
about wonderful birth of Dionysus, his travelling and his
appearance in Greece, were held during the Dionysia in
Athens. Religious rites devoted to Dionysus gave birth to
the ancient Greek tragedy (tragoedia - Greek "song of the
goats", i.e. satyrs - the goatlike companions of Dionysus).
In Attica the Great or Town Dionysia were devoted to this
god. They consisted in solemn processions in his honour,
competitions of tragic and comic poets and choruses that
performed dithyrambs. New comedies, also dedicated to
Dionysus, were performed during the Lenea. The Small or
Rural Dionysia represented repetitions of the plays,
performed in towns.
GOD of Many Names
BAKCHOS BACHUS BACHOS BAKOS
BACOS BAKUS BACUS
known as the god of many names. many-forms, and a
seat of ambiguity. Not only is he both masculine and feminine,
his very nature is shape-shifting. By holding
opposites in dynamic tension, he achieves his power
of paradox like no other diety.
best known by his Latin name Bacchus (“the
mad one”). Also there is Lusios (“the
loosener, the liberator”), Bromius (“the roaring
one”), and Evius (from the Bacchic cry “Evohé” )
the Roman Liber, and the Etruscan
Because he was the only god born of a mortal parent Semele who was tricked by Hera into being destroyed
by Hera and then rescued and borne from the thigh
of Zeus he is called the child of "the double door,"
or given the epithet "Twice-born."
He is god of the fig-tree, Sykites; he is Kissos,
god of the ivy; he is Anthios, god of all blossoming
things; he is Phytalmios, god of growth." In short,
he is the God of the impulse of life in nature, a
God of growth and the green earth.
Another epithet is Dendrites; as Dionysus
Dendrites ("he of the trees"), he is a powerful
fertility god. Dithyrambos ("he of the double
door") is sometimes used to refer to him or solemn
songs sung to him at festivals. The name refers to
his premature birth.
In the Greek pantheon, Dionysus (along with Zeus)
absorbs the role of Sabazios, a Phrygian deity.
Iacchus, possibly an epithet of Dionysus, is
associated with the Eleusinian Mysteries; in Eleusis,
he is known as a son of Zeus and Demeter. The name "Iacchus"
may come from the iakchos, hymns sung in honor of
Dionysus. Eleutherios ("the liberator") was
an epithet for both Dionysus and Eros. As Oeneus,
he is the god of the wine-press. With the epithet
Liknites ("he of the winnowing fan") he is a
fertility god connected with the mystery religions.
A winnowing fan was similar to a shovel and was used
to separate the chaff from the good, cut grain. In
addition, Dionysus is known as Lyaeus ("he
who releases") as a god of relaxation and freedom
Dionysus was identified with the lamb, and called "King
of Kings," "Only Begotten Son," "Savior,"
"Redeemer," "Sin bearer," "Anointed
One," the "Alpha and Omega."
Here's a list of nearly 100
no god is more widely represented in
ancient Greek art than Dionysos
associated with many animals, particularly large
cats that rend and tear their prey [more]
I sing of Dionysus, the son of glorious Semele.
He appeared on a jutting headland by the shore of
the fruitless sea, seeming like a stripling in the
first flush of manhood: his rich, dark hair was
waving about him, and on his strong shoulders he
wore a purple robe …
Hail, child of fair-faced Semele! He who forgets you
can in no wise order sweet song.
Homeric Hymn 7 to Dionysus
When Hephaestus bound Hera to a magical chair,
Dionysus got him drunk and brought him back to
Olympus after he had passed out. For this act, he
was made one of the twelve Olympians.
|1 of 12
Artemis are always considered Olympians.
Hades are the variable gods among the Twelve. Hestia
gave up her position as an Olympian to Dionysus in order
to live among mankind (eventually she was assigned the
role of tending the fire on Mount Olympus
Bacchus. A classical bas-relief sculpture of
Dionysus, the ever-youthful god of mystery, paradox,
fertility, and midnight revelry, shown holding his
characteristic thyrus or fennel wand.
From the Museo Archeologico
Nazionale at Naples.
There are a myth involving a homoerotic relationship
with Ampelos, a sweet youth, and Prosymnos, his
guide to the realm of Hades. When Dionysos goes to
Hades to retrieve his mother, Semele, to bring her
to Olympus, he meets Prosymnos on the way. According
to Arthur Evans in his book The God of Ecstasy,
Christian writer Clement of Alexandria reports:
Dionysos wanted to descend to Hades but did not know
the way. A certain Prosymnos promised to show him
for a price. The price was indecent but not for
Dionysos. The price he asked of Dionysos was a
sexual favor. (Evans 34)
Upon his return from the underworld, Dionysos can’t
locate Prosymnos because he has died and instead has
sex with a wooden dildo made from the branch of a
fig tree in order to pay his due to his guide.
The ram, the dolphin,
the serpent, the tiger, the lion, the lynx, the
panther, the ox, the goat and the ass are sacred to
Dionysus; and his symbols were the phallus, the bull
and the thyrsus
intoxication, physical or spiritual, he recovers an
intensity of feeling which prudence had destroyed;
he finds the world full of delight and beauty, and
his imagination is suddenly liberated from the
prison of everyday preoccupations. The Bacchic riual
produced what was called 'enthusiasm', which means
etymologically having the god enter the worshipper,
who believed that he became one with the god."
Betrand Russell A History of Western