The Myth of Dionysus: The Cheerful And Fatal God
The myth of Dionysus is different from the others, because it does not show the tragic facet of the characters of mythology. On the contrary, we speak of a divinity that represents fun, vitality and ecstasy, caused by wine or passions.
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The myth of Dionysus, called Bacchus in Roman mythology, speaks to us of a demigod full of life, cheerful and always willing to celebrate. He is considered the god of fertility and wine, as well as inspiration for ritual madness and ecstasy. There are two main versions that explain its origins, both very beautiful.
The first version on the origins of the myth of Dionysus says that he was the son of Zeus, father of the gods, and of Persephone, queen of the world of the dead. Hera, Zeus’ jealous bride, was determined to kill the boy. So he turned to the titans, who attracted the little one by showing him some toys. These came up, and then the Titans killed him, quartered him, cooked him and ate him.
Zeus, who loved his son deeply, launched his lightning bolts against the Titans. However, he realized that the heart of Dionysus had not been devoured, therefore he brought the child back to life precisely from this organ.
From the ashes of the Titans man was born. Since the latter had only partially devoured Dionysus, humans carry both the Dionysian and the Titanic within them.
Wine is the friend of the wise man and the enemy of the drunkard. It is bitter and is as useful as the philosopher’s advice; it is granted to people and forbidden to imbeciles. It pushes the fool into darkness and guides the wise man to God.
The fall of the Titans
The fall of the Titans of Rubens
Another version of the myth of Dionysus
The second version of the myth of Dionysus, perhaps the most popular, tells of the existence of a very beautiful princess, named Semele .
Zeus fell in love with her as soon as he saw her and therefore decided to take on human form in order to meet her. He conquered it and then seduced her. Following this, the young woman became pregnant and Zeus confessed his true identity.
Also in this version the jealousy of Era, Zeus’s wife, appears. When she learned of her husband ‘s infidelity , she also assumed human form and presented herself in front of Semele as a nurse. Using stratagems, he induced the princess to confirm the true identity of the child’s father. It was, then, he insinuated that Zeus was not who he said he was sowing weeds.
To free himself from any doubt, Semele asked Zeus to present himself before her as a divinity, not as a mortal. The god of Olympus had promised her that he would always satisfy all his desires, therefore he could not escape this request. It turned, therefore, into lightning and lightning, whereby the princess died charred. The baby, who was in the womb, was saved. Zeus placed it on his own leg and, after a while, Dionysus was born.
A Cheerful God
The myth of Dionysus wants Zeus to have entrusted his son to the care of Ino, sister of the deceased princess, and to her husband. However, Hera, still jealous, made use of her cunning to try to lead her adoptive parents to madness. Zeus, then, decided to transform Dionysus into a kid to entrust him to the care of Hermes who, in turn, entrusted him to the nymphs, so that they would give him an education.
Dionysus grew thanks to the care of the nymphs and Silenus, a generous elder who spent most of his time in a state of intoxication, but who had the gift of prophecy. In the company of the elderly, nymphs, satyrs and maenads, Dionysus became a man.
He became a handsome young man, very cheerful and dynamic. It was he who discovered the cultivation of the vine. Then, he crossed many lands to teach the secrets of the art of wine.
During his travels, Dionysus lived great adventures. The most famous happened on the coasts, where some pirates kidnapped him thinking he was a prince . They wanted to ask for the ransom for his release, but they couldn’t imagine what was going to happen.
Garden Nymphs Myth of Dionysus
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When the pirates tried to tie Dionysus, no rope seemed to work. The god took on the appearance of a lion, and then imitated the sound of many flutes. This drove his captors mad, who, in panic, threw themselves into the sea. At that point, Dionysus turned them into dolphins . These animals, therefore, are in reality repentant pirates and it is for this reason that they help the castaways.
Dionysus married Ariadne, after the latter had been abandoned by Theseus on an island. The god felt compassion for her and married her. This divinity also appears in numerous mythological stories and was highly appreciated by the Greeks. When he finished his task, that of teaching men to prepare wine, he asked to be able to live in Olympus.
The desire was accepted, but before reuniting with the other gods, the myth wants Dionysus to go down into the underworld to bring his mother, Semele , who was transformed into a constellation of the firmament . Dionysus is associated with party, fun, states of ecstasy, theater and pleasures.