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Zagreus  

Radcliffe G. Edmonds III

The ancient lexica (Etymologicum Magnum, Photius, Hesychius, Suda) identify Zagreus as a poetic name for Dionysus in a chthonic aspect, χθόνιος Διόνυσος, and he is invoked along with Gē (Earth), in the early, lost epic Alkmaionis (fr. 3 Bernabé). Other early evidence identifies Zagreus as an underworld deity, Plouton or the son of Hades. In the Sisyphos (fr. 228 TrGF), he is the son of Hades, while the fragment from Aeschylus’s Aigyptioi identifies him as the savage Zeus of the deceased (fr. 5 TrGF, cp. Supp. 157). The name “Zagreus” here seems to be understood as the “mighty hunter” (ὁ μεγάλως ἀγρεύων in Etymologicum Gudianum) who snatches away mortals into the kingdom of the dead, hence the application of the euphemistic epithet of the lord of the dead, the “host of many,” πολυξενώτατος.In other sources, Zagreus is chthonic because of his mother, Persephone, queen of the underworld, a genealogy first attested in a fragment of the Hellenistic poet Callimachus (Aetia fr.