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Dionysus Essay

1305 words - 6 pages

Dionysus - the ancient Greek god of wine, merry making, and madness. Dionysus is included in some lists of the twelve Olympians of Ancient Greek religion. Dionysus was the last god to be accepted into Mt. Olympus. He was the also youngest Olympian, and the only one to have a mortal mother. The Dionysia was a large festival held in ancient Athens in honor of Dionysus. During the festival, numerous theatrical performances of dramatic tragedies and comedies were preformed while people would eat and drink, especially wine. Dionysus, a major figure in ancient Greek religion, represents more than just wine and partying. He is a symbol of man's flaws when it came to his social life, and the madness that would come of it. Dionysus personifies the effects of drinking wine throughout his myths. He could act calm at one moment, and then insane the next. This is much like the feelings that arise when drinking wine. If wine is consumed reasonably, the results could be pleasant; one would become relaxed, and calm. However, if one consume too much and becomes drunk, the effects become negative, one would be unruly and unpredictable and sometimes violent.
Because of Dionysus’ strange birth, and his mortal mother, he stood out from the other Olympians. Dionysus' mother was a mortal woman named Semele, the daughter of king Cadmus of Thebes. Dionysus' father was Zeus, the king of the Greek gods. Zeus' wife, Hera, discovered Zeus' affair with Semele while Semele was pregnant. Hera disguised herself as a nurse and confronted Semele, who confirmed to Hera that Zeus was the father of the baby in her womb. Hera pretended not to believe Semele, and made Semele question if she was really impregnated by Zeus. Zeus told Semele that she could ask him for one wish, which he would grant for her. Semele requested that Zeus reveal himself in his godly form to prove that he was really who he said he was. Zeus begged Semele not to ask this, but even still Semele persisted and eventually Zeus agreed to do as she wished. Zeus showed Semele his true form, but Semele being a mere mortal, she could not look upon an undisguised god without dying, died in the blaze created by Zeus. Zeus rescued a young Dionysus by cutting him out of Semele's womb. Zeus then cut open his own thigh, put baby Dionysus inside, and sewed his thigh up. A short time later, Dionysus was born on Mount Pramnos in the island of Ikaria. Zeus went there to release Dionysus, by cutting open his thigh again. Therefore, Dionysus was born by two "mothers,” and because of this he was dubbed the nickname "twice-born."
In the Cretan version of Dionysus' birth myth, Dionysus was the son of Zeus and Persephone (the queen of the Greek underworld and the wife of Hades. Again Hera tried to kill Dionysus, this time by sending Titans to rip Dionysus to pieces. Dionysus was mocked by the Titans, who gave him a thyrsus (a fennel stalk) in place of a scepter. Thus the thyrsus became one of Dionysus' symbols. In his anger after...

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