Show Summary Details

Page of

Printed from Oxford Classical Dictionary. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a single article for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 04 March 2021


  • A. Schachter


Semele, a daughter of *Cadmus of *Thebes (1), seduced by *Zeus, who visited her unseen, and by whom she conceived a child. At the urging of *Hera, she persuaded Zeus to show himself to her: he appeared in the form of a thunderbolt, which killed her. Zeus removed the embryo from the corpse, sewed it into his own thigh, and eventually gave birth to *Dionysus, whom *Hermes handed over to Semele's sister Ino, to rear. The story is summarized by *Apollodorus (6) 3. 4. 3 (see too Frazer's note). Homer's version (Il. 14. 323–5), although brief, implies that the birth was normal (325: ‘Semele gave birth to Dionysus’); so does Hesiod, Theog.940–2 (and see West's note on 942).As a cult figure, Semele possessed a sēkos—an open-air enclosure, formerly her bridal chamber—on the Cadmeia at Thebes, which was the focal point of the sanctuary of Dionysus Cadmeus (Schachter 1.

You do not currently have access to this article


Please login to access the full content.


Access to the full content requires a subscription