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Dionysus

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Dionysus for kids
Dionysus was the Greek god of wine, parties, festivals, celebrations, madness, chaos, drunkenness and ecstasy. He therefore represents not only the intoxicating power of wine, but also its social and beneficent influences which led him to be viewed as the promoter of civilization and lover of peace.

He is often represented as the protector of those who do not belong to conventional society and therefore symbolizes everything which is chaotic, dangerous and unexpected which can only be attributed to the unforeseeable action of the gods. Dionysus was not only the god of  wine, but also of the theater. 

Dionysus (Roman Counterpart was Bacchus)
When the Roman Empire conquered the Greeks in 146BC, the Romans assimilated various elements from other cultures and civilisations, including the gods and goddesses that were worshipped by the Ancient Greeks. Many of the Greek gods and goddesses, such as Dionysus, were therefore adopted by the Romans but were given Latin names. The Roman counterpart of Dionysus was Bacchus.

Facts about Dionysus
The following facts and profile provides a fast overview of Dionysus:

  • Personality: Helpful, generous, light-hearted, popular

  • Appearance: Powerful, imposing with a full head of dark hair and wearing a beard alternatively depicted as a clean shaven pretty youth

  • Role & Function: The function of Dionysus is described as being the god of wine, celebrations, fertility and merry-making. The spirit of ecstasy and disorder

  • Status: Major God and one of the Twelve Olympians

  • Symbols: Thyrsos staff, leopard, panther, tiger, goat, grapes, ivy and goblets

  • Gender: Male

  • Roman Counterpart: The Roman name for this god was Bacchus

  • Name of Wife: Ariadne

  • Name of Father: Zeus

  • Name of Mother: Semele

The Family of Dionysus
According to Greek legends and myths the family of Dionysus were as follows:

  • Father:  Zeus
  • Mother:  Semele, a princess of Thebes. He was the only god to have a mother who was a mortal
  • Wife:  Ariadne
  • Names of Children with Ariadne:  Oenopion, Thoas, Staphylos and Peparethus
  • Names of Children with Aphrodite - Charites, Hymenaios and Priapus

The Symbols of Dionysus
In the sculptures, vases, mosaics and paintings of Greek Art the god Dionysus was often illustrated with images representing his symbols - the thyrsos (a pine-cone tipped staff), leopard, panther, tiger, goat, grapes, ivy and goblets. The symbols of Dionysus were:

  • The Grapes and Goblet
    • The symbol of the Grapes and Goblet relate to his role as the god of wine. He taught mortals how to plant and tend the grapevine, press the juice and make it into wine. 
  • The Leopard, panther, tiger
    • The symbols of the leopard, panther, tiger all refer to his chariot which was drawn by exotic beasts such as lions and tigers
  • Ivy
    • Ivy or holly vines were a symbol of immortality and decadent indulgence, Dionysus was often depicted wearing this type of wreath which was associated with merry making and celebrations
  • The Thyros
    • The thyrsos was a magic staff entwined with vine leaves with a pinecone on the top. The magical staff, or wand, could turn a rock into water and the water into wine

Dionysus in Greek Mythology - The Midas Touch
Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, featured in the stories, myths and legends in Greek Mythology. The famous story of the man with the Midas touch is associated with Dionysus. He rewarded King Midas with what seemed to be a wonderful gift - whatever the king touched would turn into gold. But this included the food he tried to eat and King Midas became weary of his gift, and asked Dionysus to revert it refer to the Midas Touch.

Myths and Legends about Dionysus in Greek Mythology
He presided over commerce, wrestling and other gymnastic exercises. He also presided over  thieves and everythingthat required skill, cunning and dexterity. The most famous myths and legends relating to Dionysus are:

  • Silenus, a satyr
  • The story of King Midas
  • The transformation of pirates into dolphins
  • The return of Hephaestus to Mount Olympus
Gods and Deities
Greek Gods and Goddesses

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