Study Guide

Dionysus (The Early Years)

Introduction

Dionysus was a total rock star. This god made it his mission to go around the world inspiring everybody he met to jam out with him and his groupies, the Maenads and satyrs. In a lot of cases, it didn't take much convincing, since he was also giving the world its first taste of wine. Just as any tabloid will tell you, though, there's always a dark side lurking beneath the glam and glitz If people refused Dionysus... well, let's just say he got more than a little ornery.

In this story, you not only get the dirt on the D-man's meteoric rise to super-stardom, but also his seriously crazy beginnings. You can look at it as a "behind the music" on one the most intense gods of all time. Trust us, it's way more exciting than some he-grew-up-in-the-suburbs-and started-taking-guitar-lessons-when-he-was-12 kind of story. Our buddy Dionysus had an explosive birth that launched him into an equally explosive reign as the god of wine and rebirth.

Best of the Web

Dionysus (The Early Years) Resources

Movie or TV Productions

Semele
This 2007 TV movie rocks out the opera by Handel based on the tragedy of Semele.

Backanterna
Famous director, Ingmar Bergman, directs this film based on Euripides' The Bacchae.

Dionysus, the Movie Star
Click here to get the deets on a 2002 movie version of The Bacchae.

Dionysus, the Movie Star (Again)
Yet another movie version of Euripides' play.

Times Review
The NY Times tells you what it thinks about the National Theatre of Scotland's production of The Bacchae.

Bacchae Gone Public
Check this announcement for a 2009 free production of The Bacchae by the Public Theatre in Central Park.

Videos

Yay, Opera
You can watch the English National Opera's entire performance of Handel's Semele here. (Hey, give it a shot!)

Gospel Bacchae
This trailer for the National Theatre of Scotland's production of The Bacchae is pretty dope.

Audio

Singing Semele
You look like you have three hours to kill. Why not click here to listen Handel's epic opera, Semele?

Bacchae for Your Ears
Eyes too tired to read the myth? Just lay back and listen to this recording of The Bacchae.

Metamorphoses for Your Lobes
You can listen to all of Ovid's famous poem, including the parts with Dionysus here.

Images

Here I am Babe
Semele is all like, "Dude, Zeus that's what you look like?!"

Lighting Love
Poor Semele just can't deal when Zeus's lightning fills the room.

Scary Zeus
Zeus may not be appearing to Semele as lightning in this picture, but she still looks scared to death.

Birth at a Funeral
This sarcophagus shows a detailed scene of Dionysus's birth. Was this guy hoping for a little rebirth perhaps?

Giving Wine to Children
This piece of glassware might just be depicting the only instance when it might be okay to give alcohol to a kid—little Dionysus is the future god of wine after all. Looks like this satyr was a forward thinker.

Dionysus's Role Model
You can totally see why Dionysus turned out the way he did, with Silenus the satyr as his role model.

Every Kid Loves a Parade
Especially when the parade is in their honor.