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date: 15 January 2021


  • A. Henrichs


Dionysus (Linear B Diwonusos, Homeric Διώνυσος, Aeolic Ζόννυσσος, Attic Διόνυσος), is the twice-born son of *Zeus and *Semele. His birth alone sets him apart. Snatched prematurely from the womb of his dying mother and carried to term by his father, he was born from the paternal thigh. Perceived as both man and animal, male and effeminate, youthful as well as mature, he is the most versatile and elusive of all Greek gods. His myths and cults are often violent and bizarre, a threat to the established social order. He represents an enchanted world filled with extraordinary experiences. Always on the move, he is the most epiphanic god, riding felines, sailing the sea, and even wearing wings. His most common cult name was Bakch(e)ios or Bakchos, after which his ecstatic followers were called bakchoi and bakchai. Adopted by the Romans as Bacchus, he was identified with the Italian *Liber Pater.

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