God of Wine, Wild Plants, Festivity, Theater
Usually accompanied by maenads (female devotees) and satyrs (male devotees, sometimes with cloven hooves), who join with him in wild revelry. Dionysus is the only half-mortal Olympian. His mother, Semele, a princess of Thebes, was Zeus's lover. Jealous Hera tricks Semele into making Zeus swear to grant her a wish: the princess asks to see him in his full divine glory. Bound by his oath, Zeus obeys. Semele is consumed by the god's lightning bolts, but Zeus snatches his unborn son from her womb and implants him in his own leg. Dionysus is born from Zeus's thigh and takes his place on Olympus after Hestia gives up her seat for him. Later, Dionysus journeys to the Underworld to retreive his mother, who is made into a goddess.
Roman name: Bacchus
Parents: Zeus and Semele, a mortal
Epithets: Phallic, He Who Unties, He of the Wild Revels, Wine Giver
Attributes: grape vine, ivy, thyrsus (a pinecone-tipped staff), leopard or panther
Dionysus, Palazzo Altemps
A Roman bronze from the 2nd century AD