We’ve officially started!
Day Four of the A-to-Z Challenge in April 2017. Let’s do this.
If you’re interested in joining in on the fun, this year there’s no linky list or form to fill out to sign up. Just head over to the official blog and comment, making sure to leave your blog for others to visit.
Now I should warn, that I didn’t stick to the common sense rule of writing short, pithy posts. Mine are long and bloated, but I’m having fun with it. And if you wanna skim, that’s absolutely cool with me!
We all got this. Join in; there’s always room for more! Leave a comment down below with your blog so I can visit. I’m thrilled to be making new friends. 🙂
As part of my Greek mythic figures, places, and things theme, my “D” post features the first Olympian god, Dionysus.
This one was probably the easiest to choose. Dionysus is hands-down my favorite of the 12 Olympians. Although if Hestia had remained in her seat, she’d be my favorite…
Since he is a god, there’s a lot of myths surrounding Dionysus straight from birth. So I’m cherry-picking my three favorite myths to share with you.
So, let’s start with his birth story…
There are two versions I’ve come across with Dionysus. The more common one I knew about is Dionysus being the son of the Father of Gods (and serial seducer), Zeus, and a mortal woman, Semele of Cadmus.
In this version, Semele is Zeus’s lover until Hera catches wind of a pregnancy.
Angered by his infidelity (yet again), Hera disguises herself as an old maid and infiltrates a pregnant Semele’s circle of confidence. Hera askes Semele who the child’s father is, and Semele confesses that it’s Zeus.
Now that she has her information, Hera goads Semele into proving that Zeus is the father by requesting he show himself in full god mode.
Semele asks Zeus to show her his real/natural form, and Zeus, bound by oath, reveals himself to her in a shower of gold lightning.
So after flashing her, Semele is fried to death and Zeus, knowing that would happen, swoops in to save the infant in her womb.
So ripping the still-growing fetus out, Zeus cuts open his thigh and shoves the fetus in, sewing up the area so that the future Dionysus could grow to term.
When that happens, Zeus delivers the baby Dionysus and places the infant in the care of his late mother’s sister. Dionysus’s aunt, Ino, and her king-husband, Athamas.
Knowing that Dionysus is not favored by Hera, Ino hides his existence by raising him as a girl among her children.
But once Hera catches on that Semele and Zeus’s child lived, she decides to send a gift of madness to Dionysus’s surrogate parents. In one variant, both Ino and her husband, King Athamas are driven mad and they kill their children and eventually themselves.
In another variant it’s only King Athamas who is driven mad. Hallucinating, he kills his son, believing him to be a wild animal, and then he chases his wife and other son. Afraid for their lives, Ino grabs her son and hurries them off a cliff.
Yeah, like she thought she’d survive that one. But I guess it’s better than the death Athamas probably had planned.
I should also make note here that Ino is identified as also being one of the three nymph maidens who reared the infant Dionysus. Ino and her two other living sisters, Agaue/Agave and Autonoe. The ladies apparently abandon their own husbands and children to raise Dionysus alone up on Mount Nysa, earning themselves the title of the Nymphs of Nysa.
However it started or ended, Dionysus had a pretty crazy birth story and early childhood.
Myth #2 covers the story of Dionysus confronting his cousin, King Pentheus.
Pentheus was the son of Agave, one of Semele’s three sisters. Also one of the supposed three Nymphs of Nysa. Pentheus takes the throne of Thebes from his grandfather, Cadmus (Semele, Ino, Agave and Autonoe’s father).
Maybe it’s jealousy, but one of the first things the young King Pentheus does is to ban any cults worshiping his divine cousin, Dionysus.
That doesn’t go down well with Dionysus. Offended, he drives all the women of Pentheus’s kingdom mad, including Pentheus’s mother, Agave. In their mad frenzy, the women all head to party up on some mountain.
Pentheus wants to get to the bottom of this, and so when he grabs one of the cultists, he locks him up not realizing this cultist is Dionysus himself.
Being a half-god, the chains can’t hold Dionysus and neither can the cell door remained closed. Tricking Pentheus into dressing like a woman and crashing the mountain party, Dionysus sends his cousin off to a grisly end.
Pentheus decides to climb a tree to observe the party, and spying him, the frenzied women mistake him for a wild animal. Dragging him down from the tree, the women rip him from limb to limb in a ritualistic killing. Supposedly Pentheus’s mother, Agave, and his aunt Ino were the first to attack him.
And it isn’t until they’re heading home that they realize what they’ve done and to whom.
MORAL: send some reconnaissance first; that way if they die…you live?
Now Myth #3 is all about Dionysus and Ariadne.
I know as far as Greek mythological couples go, Hades and Persephone are the most popular, though I’m not sure why – he’s her UNCLE, people! Not to mention she’s already an incest product.
Okay, rant aside, this isn’t Hades and Persephone’s story.
Going with the most popular version of her story, Ariadne is the daughter of King Minos of Crete. Yeah, that Minos whose wife, Pasiphae, cuckolded him for the Cretan Bull. Of course she was cursed by Poseidon at the time and she didn’t know she was getting it on with a preternatural bull. (Though not sure who should feel more violated: Pasiphae or the Cretan Bull.)
Anyways, of that joining comes the Minotaur, or Ariadne’s half-brother.
And there’s little love lost for her half-brother.
When her father, King Minos, traps his wife’s monstrous love-child in the Cretan maze, and he forces the kingdom of Thebes to send over 9 girls and 9 boys to be sacrificed to the Minotaur in the complex maze, Ariadne eventually helps the famous Thebian hero, Theseus, escape the maze once he kills the Minotaur.
Ariadne is in love with Theseus. Totally love at first sight, because it’s not like she exactly has the time to wine and dine the guy before he’s sent off to be dinner for the Minotaur.
King Minos only places the crazy tax on Thebes to send over their young boys and girls because he purportedly lost his beloved son, Androgeos, while the latter was on a trip to Thebes to fight a bull.
So Ariadne’s plan to save Theseus is to have him unwind a piece of thread while he ventures forth as a sacrifice to the Minotaur. Theseus kills the Minotaur and then he follows the thread back out of the maze.
Now, in Version One of this story, Theseus is so awed by Ariadne he decides to take her back with him and marry her once they hit Thebes. Or so that’s what she thinks. On the sea voyage home, Theseus lands on the island of Naxos, and he leaves Ariadne sleeping there. Sneaking off on his ship, he abandons her.
Who does that?
I mean, it’s worse than break up via text.
So Ariadne is obviously upset. Lucky for her, that’s when Dionysus happens by her. I can’t find any reference of his falling in love with her, but he had to be interested because he marries her.
In Version Two, Ariadne leaves with Theseus, and the hero really plans to marry her. Only he gets a visit from Dionysus on the ship heading to Thebes. Again, no real mention of Dionysus liking Ariadne, but it has to be insta-lust because he orders Theseus to leave Ariadne sleeping on Naxos.
Unlike most humans, Theseus knows not to piss off a Greek god.
Dionysus then takes Ariadne as his wife. In some variants, he brings Ariadne up to Mt. Olympus and has her deified as an immortal.
In other endings, Dionysus also delivers his mother Semele from the Underworld and he brings her to Mt. Olympus as well for a hit of magical immortal-making ambrosia.
Again, however it ended, Ariadne seemed to get her happily ever after with someone. Guess girl ain’t picky.
But talk about a rebound! A god.
Ariadne, you did well for yourself.
MORAL: be patient! You never know what opportunity might be walking (or drifting) by.
My sources to help with this post were:
Resourceful sites. Check them out!