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date: 04 March 2021

Semelelocked

  • A. Schachter

Extract

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.

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