By: Andrew Nobles
Of all the gods and goddesses that roam the annals of Greek mythology, perhaps none is more fun than the god of wine and the grape harvest—Dionysus. Born of the mighty Zeus’ affair with the mortal Semele, who was the princess of Thebe. But it wouldn’t be a Greek mythology story if it didn’t have elements of whimsical insanity sprinkled in.
After some trickery from Hera (Zeus’ wife) when she discovered the affair, Zeus inadvertently killed Semele while she was pregnant. Zeus was able to retrieve the unborn Dionysus from Semele’s body and sewed the baby into his thigh and carried his son to term.
When Dionysus grew to an adult, he wandered the world, parting his knowledge on winemaking and the harvest to the humans along the way. Crowds would gather and rejoice in honor of their beloved Dionysus. Festivals are still thrown today in his honor. Unlike his fellow Olympian gods, Dionysus was not a symbol of fear and trepidation and his followers admired his benevolence he showed toward humans, which is a rare characteristic coming from a Greek god.
It should be noted however that if you did cross Dionysus or show him disrespect, he would take vengeance on you for that transgression. In the darker myths, Dionysus had a habit of inflicting those who wronged him with a madness that would typically lead to a gruesome death.
For instance, King Pentheus of Thebes refused to accept Dionysus divinity, since he did have a mortal mother, after all. In response, Dionysus had the reasonable reaction of stirring the king’s daughters into a hysteria of sorts and they proceeded to rip the appendages off the king.
So long as you stayed on his good side, Dionysus is a good god to have around. He is the uncommon bred of being the party and bringing the party. Just be sure you don’t question his legitimacy of being an Olympian god…
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