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Who Was Dionysus?

Updated on June 9, 2013
Dionysus on the Cross Tablet.
Dionysus on the Cross Tablet. | Source

by Christine B.

To the Ancient Greeks Dionysus was the god of wine and the grape harvest. (Dionysus is also the Roman god, Bacchus) He reigned as such from 1500 through 1000 BC. His origins are uncertain, however he was reported to have had a triumphant, but unorthodox entrance and exit from Greek Mythology. In many wine growing locals the festival of Dionysus is still celebrated in the spring when the new leaves sprout from the grape vines.

Legend reports that Dionysus was the son of Zeus and a mortal woman named Semele. There have been a few varying stories of his early demise and re-birth but the one part of his legend that never changes is that Dionysus taught the early Greeks how to grow grapes, make wine and to enjoy it. Someone had to have done it at some point, and since he was linked so closely with the process, we could assume this was the case. So where did Dionysus get his knowledge of wine making? Nothing in his mythological legend indicates where he learned how to make wine.

As a youth it is said that Dionysus was sent away to Nysa to be raised by the Nymphai (forest nymphs) for his own protection. No one knows for sure where this place was or even if it is on this planet.

The tablet at the top of this article depicts the crucifixion of Dionysus, but bares a remarkable resemblance to the crucifixion of Christ. However, this carving is dated long before Christ was born. There are many parallels that have been drawn between the life of Christ and Dionysus, especially of their conception and death.

The vase shown at the end of this article is an ancient depiction of Dionysus Hung On Tree showing sacraments of loaves of bread and jars of wine, It was also created hundreds of years before the birth of Christ.

So what does it all mean? No one knows for sure. As I am prone to say, there are no myths. In this case, Christ was a much better person than Dionysus was, but it sure is strange how so much of the story of their lives parallel.


Ancient Urn depicting the crucifixion of Dionysus.
Ancient Urn depicting the crucifixion of Dionysus. | Source

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