The Children of Zeus: Dionysos (page 112 lower, with art)

Chapter 2: The Olympians

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Iliad 14.323-25

Nor of Semele, nor of Alcmene in Thebes, and she brought forth Heracles, her son stout of heart, and Semele bare Dionysus, the joy of mortals. Greek Text

Hesiod, Theogony 940-42

And Semele, daughter of Cadmus was joined with him in love and bore him a splendid son, joyous Dionysus,—a mortal woman an immortal son. And now they both are gods. Greek Text

Homeric Hymn 1 to Dionysus

For some say, at Dracanum; and some, on windy Icarus; and some, in Naxos, O Heaven-born, Insewn; and others by the deep-eddying river Alpheus that pregnant Semele bare you to Zeus the thunder-lover. And others yet, lord, say you were born in Thebes; but all these lie. The Father of men and gods gave you birth remote from men and secretly from white-armed Hera. Greek Text

Boston, Museum of Fine Arts 95.39: Attic red-figure lekythos by Alkimachos Painter with birth of Dionysos from Zeus’ thigh, as Hermes looks on

Museum of Fine Arts

Drawing by J.D. Beazley from Beazley Archive Pottery Database

Herodotus 2.146.2

But as it is, the Greek story has it that no sooner was Dionysus born than Zeus sewed him up in his thigh and carried him away to Nysa in Ethiopia beyond Egypt. Greek Text

Euripides, Bakchai 89-69

Whom once, in the compulsion of birth pains, the thunder of Zeus flying upon her, his mother cast from her womb, leaving life by the stroke of a thunderbolt. Immediately Zeus, Kronos’ son, received him in a chamber fit for birth, and having covered him in his thigh shut him up with golden clasps, hidden from Hera. Greek Text

Pindar fr 85a SM – Pindarus 2, p. 84, ed. B. Snell and H. Maehler. Leipzig 1975.

Homeric Hymn 26 to Dionysus

I begin to sing of ivy-crowned Dionysus, the loud-crying god, splendid son of Zeus and glorious Semele. The rich-haired Nymphs received him in their bosoms from the lord his father and fostered and nurtured him carefully in the dells of Nysa, where by the will of his father he grew up in a sweet-smelling cave, being reckoned among the immortals. But when the goddesses had brought him up, a god oft hymned, then began he to wander continually through the woody coombes, thickly wreathed with ivy and laurel. And the Nymphs followed in his train with him for their leader; and the boundless forest was filled with their outcry.

And so hail to you, Dionysus, god of abundant clusters! Grant that we may come again rejoicing to this season, and from that season onwards for many a year. Greek Text

Pherekydes 3F90 – Die Fragmente der griechischen Historiker 1pp. 84-85, ed. F. Jacoby. 2d ed. Leiden 1957.

ApB 3.4.3 – Apollodoros, Bibliotheke (Library)

But at the proper time Zeus undid the stitches and gave birth to Dionysus, and entrusted him to Hermes. And he conveyed him to Ino and Athamas, and persuaded them to rear him as a girl. But Hera indignantly drove them mad, and Athamas hunted his elder son Learchus as a deer and killed him, and Ino threw Melicertes into a boiling cauldron, then carrying it with the dead child she sprang into the deep. And she herself is called Leucothea, and the boy is called Palaemon, such being the names they get from sailors; for they succour storm-tossed mariners. And the Isthmian games were instituted by Sisyphus in honor of Melicertes. But Zeus eluded the wrath of Hera by turning Dionysus into a kid, and Hermes took him and brought him to the nymphs who dwelt at Nysa in Asia, whom Zeus afterwards changed into stars and named them the Hyades. Greek Text

Ferrara, Museo Nazionale di Spina 2737: Attic red-figure volute krater by the Altamura Painter, with Zeus entrusting the child Dionysos to the Nymphai

akg-images / André Held

akg-images / André Held

Beazley Archive Pottery Database

Athens, A. Kyrou Collection 71: Attic red-figure hydria, Hermes delivering child Dionysos to Ino and Athamas

Digital LIMC, photo A Kyrou


Beazley Archive Pottery Database

Throne of Apollo at Amyklai (known through Pausanias’ description and modern reconstructions)

Pausanias Description of Greece 3.18.11:

Here are Dionysus, too, and Heracles; Hermes is bearing the infant Dionysus to heaven, and Athena is taking Heracles to dwell henceforth with the gods. Greek Text


Reconstruction of whole throne by A. Furtwängler, from J.G. Frazer, Pausanias’s Description of Greece, vol. III, Commentary (2nd ed. 1913), p. 352

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#Athamas, #Dionysos, #Hermes, #Ino, #Nymphai, #Zeus

Edited by R. Ross Holloway, Elisha Benjamin Andrews Professor Emeritus, Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World, Brown Univ., and Frances Van Keuren, Prof. Emerita, Lamar Dodd School of Art, Univ. of Georgia, June 2019.

Literary sources edited by Elena Bianchelli, Senior Lecturer of Classical Languages and Culture, University of Georgia, June 2020

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