Dionysus was the god of the grape harvest, wine and winemaking, fertility, ritual madness, religious ecstasy and theater. Basically, dude liked to party.
It’s no wonder, to be honest. Poor Dion never got a chance to meet his mother, Semele (I talked about her demise in my previous post). Apparently, however, what he did get was his father’s penchant for unrestrained consumption.
Speaking of Zeus, upon his latest son’s entry into the world, he gave Dionysus to Hermes. Hermes was, uh, probably not the best god to raise a kid. For one thing, he was extremely busy traveling, delivering and psychopomping. So Hermes pawned baby Dion off on his mortal aunt, with strict instructions to dress the boy as a girl to keep him hidden from Hera. It was probably for the best, buuuuut…
Yeah, if the god of wine’s drunken and debauched lifestyle says anything at all, it’s I HAVE ABANDONMENT ISSUES, OKAY? It seems he was destined to drink the pain away.
Nonetheless, he found purpose in chaos, danger, and the unexpected. So he pretty much encouraged poor decision making, which was why he was the god mortals turned to when they needed a break from reality (and sanity). His wine and ecstatic dancing freed his followers to lose their inhibitions, forget their fears and throw self-consciousness to the wind. In a nutshell, Dion didn’t GAF about acting like a stone cold crazy hot mess, he just wanted everyone to have a good time.
The ladies loved Dionysus. And why wouldn’t they? He encouraged drinking, dancing, and unbridled fits of passion. Plus, being a god, and, let’s not forget, son of super buff Zeus, he probably looked pretty damned good while doing it.
Dionysus had many cults dedicated to worshipping him, the best known among his followers being the Maenads. They’d do anything for Dion. Like, anything. Including, but not limited to wild dancing, clawing at the dirt like maniacs, and uprooting trees with their bare hands. Also with their bare hands? Ripping apart bulls, the symbol of their beloved god, and eating the flesh raw.
Eww. No thanks. I’d never make it into the Maenads Only club, since my idea of a wild night is a couple of wine spritzers and a face full of sliders during an episode of Game of Thrones.
let’s talk Hook ups…
It wasn’t just the ladies that loved Dionysus. The gentlemen took a shine to him as well, especially the young satyr Ampelos. Dionysus fancied him back, but Ampelos was killed trying to ride a wild bull to impress him. Oops.
There was also Polymnos, a mortal who showed Dionysus the way into the Underworld. In return, he asked Dion to lie with him. When Dionysus finally got around to fulfilling the pledge he’d made, Polymnos had already died. So Dionysus erected a wooden phallus on his grave. And, yes, that pun was intended.
As for the ladies, Dionysus had many love affairs, with goddesses, nymphs, and mortals, but the most well known of his love affairs was with Ariadne, a mortal princess of Krete. He found her sleeping on the island of Naxos and made her his wife. As the story goes, however, Dionysus wasn’t her first choice. Ariadne fell in love with Theseus, the man who’d come to slay the Minotaur, and even went so far as to help him kill the beast. Afterward, she fled with Theseus to his boat… but he abandoned her as she slept, leaving her behind. That’s when Dion swooped in with his sparkly abs, two wine glasses and a charcuterie plate.
Anyhoodle, that’s about it for Dionysus. Other than he was the last god to be named an Olympian, he was the only god to have a mortal mother.
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