Dionysus the Indo Greek Divinity

Dionysus The Ancient Greek God

Dionysus, also called Bacchus in Rome & Liber Pater, in Greco-Roman religion, a nature god of fruitfulness and vegetation, especially known as a god of wine and ecstasy, is another Important Indo Greek divinity” Dionysus, the god of wine, was the son of Zeus and Semele, the daughter of Cadmus of Thebes. Before his birth, Semele was pursuaded by Fera, who appeared to her in disguise, to request the father of the gods to appear to her in the same glory in which he approached his own wife Hera. Zeus unwillingly complied, and appeared to her in thunder and lightening. Semele, being seized by the flames, gave premature birth to a child; but Zeus saved the child, sewed him up in child but Zeus saved the child, sewed him up in his thigh, and thus preserved him till he came to maturity. After his birth Dionysus was brought up by the nymphs of Mt Nysa. When he had grown up, Hera drove him mad. He went to egypt thence proceeded through Syria, then traversed all Asia, teaching the inhabitants of thedifferent countries of Asia the Cultivation of the wine and introducing among them the elements of civilization. The most famous part of his wanderings in Asia is his expedition to India. On his return to Europe he passed through Thrace, but was ill received by Lycurgus, king of the Edones. He then returned to Thebes, where he Compelled the women to quit their houses, and to celebrate Bacchic festivals on Mt. Cithaeron. King Pentheus of Thebes resisted the introduction of Dionysus worship into his kingdom, and hence driven mad by the god, was torn to pieces by his own mother and two sisters in Bacchic frenzy. Dionysus next went to Argos, where the people refused to acknowledge him, but after punishing the women with frenzy, he was recognised as a god. His last feat was performed on a voyage from icaria to Naxos. He hired a ship, which belonged to Tyrrhenian pirates, but the men instead of landing at Nazos, steered towards Asia, to sell him there as a slave. There-upon the god changed the mast and oars into serpents, and himself into a lion: ivy grew around the vessel and the sound of flutes was heard on every side, the sailors were seized with madness, leaped into the sea and were metamorphosed into dolphins. After he had thus established his divine nature throughout the world, he took his mother out of Hades, cled her Thyone and Hades caled ber Thyone, and rose with her into Olympus. Various mythological beings described as the offspring of Dionysus. Among the women who won his love the most famous was Ariadne. In Homer Dionysus does not appear as one of the great divinities; he is simply described as the god, who teaches man the preparation of wine in Greece. The worship of Dionysus spread with the cultivation of wine. After Alexander’s expedition to India, the Bacchic festivals increasingly assumed wild and dissolute character. Dionysus represents the productive and intoxicating power of nature. On account of the close connection between the cultivation of the soil and the earlier stages of civilization, he is regarded as a law-giver and a lover of peace. As the Greek drama had grown out of the dithyrambic choruses at the festival of Dionysus, he was also regarded as the god of tragic art. In the earliest times the Graces or Chariotes were the companions of Dionysus, but afterwards we find him accompanied in his expeditions and travels by Bacchantic women, all of whom are represented in art as raging with madness or enthusiasm, their heads thrown back wards, with dishevelled hair, and carrying in their hands thyrsus staffs (entwined with ivy, and headed with pine-cones) cymbals Swords, or serpents. Sileni, Pans Satyrs Centaurs, and other beings of a like kind, are also the constant companions of the god. The animal most commonly sacrificed to Dionysus was the ram. The vine, ivy, laurel, and asphodel were sacred to him. So were the dolphin, serpent. tiger lynx, panther and ass. In works of art he appears as a youthful god. His body is manly, but approaches the female form by Its softness and roundness.The expression of his countenance is languid and his attitude is easy, like that of a man who is absorbed in sweet thoughts or slightly intoxicated. On the Indo Greek Coins Dionysus appears wearing wreath and holding a spear. A leopard touching a wine and raised paw is associated with him on the reverse of the coins. The Indo Greeks identified Dionysus with Lord Shiva.

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