Bacchus Picture

Bacchus, Dionysus or Dionysos , was the god of wine and inspired madness, and a major figure of Greek mythology. He represents not only the intoxicating power of wine, but also its social and beneficial influences. The geographical origins of his cult were unknown, but almost all myths depicted him as having "foreign" (i.e. non-Greek) origins.[1]

He was also known as Bacchus[2] and the frenzy he induces, bakcheia. He is the patron deity of agriculture and the theatre. He was also known as the Liberator (Eleutherios), freeing one from one's normal self, by madness, ecstasy, or wine.[3] The divine mission of Dionysus was to mingle the music of the aulos and to bring an end to care and worry.[4] Scholars have discussed Dionysus' relationship to the "cult of the souls" and his ability to preside over communication between the living and the dead.[5]

In Greek mythology Dionysus is made to be a son of Zeus and Semele; other versions of the myth contend that he is a son of Zeus and Persephone. He is described as being womanly or "man-womanish".[6]

Dionysus with panther, satyr and grapes on a vine. In the Palazzo Altemps (Rome, Italy)The name Dionysos is of uncertain significance; its -nysos element may well be non-Greek in origin, but its dio- element has been associated since antiquity with Zeus (genitive Dios). Nysa, for Greek writers, is either the nymph who nursed him, or the mountain where he was attended by several nymphs (the Nysiads), who fed him and made him immortal as directed by Hermes.[7]

The retinue of Dionysus was called the Thiasus and comprised chiefly Maenads.
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Greek Gods and Goddesses