Dionysos, or Bacchus, is a Hellenic (Greek and Roman) god. He is associated with wine, ivy, bulls, and ritual madness. His father is Zeus and his mother is the mortal Semele, who perished while pregnant with Dionysus when she forced Zeus to expose her to his true form. The babe Dionysos was then taken up and sewn into Zeus’s thigh until his birth. Among his followers are the maenads, women consumed by holy madness. In Euripides’s Bacchae, maenads have magical abilities and will ritually eviscerate their prey. As the “Mountain God,” he is also a god of isolation and the natural world.
Dionysos teaches about wildness and religious frenzy. He releases us from boundaries, expectations, and gender roles. He is also a comfort to wanderers and those in isolation.
My Journey to Dionysos
Dionysos is one of the few gods I have had some formal education on. In a Myth and Lit course, I read Bacchae, and my professor provided a lot of detailed information about him. Before this time, I had thought of Dionysos as a plump, bearded god of wine and debauchery. I’ve always looked down on hedonistic behavior, so I was not at all attracted to this image. Nowadays, listening to historians pigeonhole him as a god of iniquity is uncomfortable. Dionysos is so much more than a god of wine or orgies. He is wild and savage, but fiercely loving. He is enigmatic, taking many forms. Above all, he has a sense of menacing, of danger, that entices me.
Cartwright, Mark. “Dionysos.” Ancient History Encyclopedia. Ancient History Encyclopedia, 16 Sept. 2012. Web. 24 Feb. 2017.
Euripides, and Robin Robertson. Bacchae. London: Vintage Classic, 2016. Print.
Galina Krasskova, “Savage Gods – Part II”
image © Soni Alcorn-Hender