Study Guide

Dionysus (The Early Years) The Hero's Journey

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The Hero's Journey

The Hero's Journey is a framework that scholar Joseph Campbell came up with that many myths and stories follow. Many storytellers and story-readers find it a useful way to look at tale. (That's actually putting it lightly. Some people are straight-up obsessed.) Chris Vogler adapted Campbell's 17 stages of a hero's journey, which many screenwriters use while making movies. Vogler condensed Campbell's 17 stages down to 12, which is what we're using. Check out a general explanation of the 12 stages.

The story of "Dionysus: The Early Years" doesn't fit perfectly into the Hero's Journey structure, but we're giving it a shot. As the gross old saying goes, there's more than one way to skin a cat.

Ordinary World

Semele is just your ordinary Theban princess doing her ordinary Theban princess things.

Call To Adventure

Zeus, king of the gods, shows up with seduction on his mind.

Refusal Of The Call

Come on, how could anybody refuse the king of the gods?

Meeting The Mentor

Silenus, who teaches Dionysus the ways of wine, is kind of like Dionysus's tutor. But not exactly the dude we'd pick for a Big Brother/Big Sister program.

Crossing The Threshold

Semele and Zeus cross the threshold of love.

Tests, Allies, Enemies

When Hera finds out about the affair, Semele makes an enemy who will bring her doom. Pretending to be a friend, Hera advises Semele to ask to see Zeus in his true form.

Approach To The Inmost Cave

As Zeus approaches Semele's bedchamber, the girl has no idea that doom awaits.


At Semele's request, Zeus reveals himself as lighting and thunder, totally obliterating the girl. Our heroine unfortunately doesn't survive her ordeal.


Though his mother dies, the unborn Dionysus is saved by his dad, who sews Dionysus into his thigh until he's ready to be born.

The Road Back

There's no road back here.


Dionysus is born despite his mother's incineration and is sent to live with some friendly nymphs on Mt. Nysa.

Return With The Elixir

The little immortal, who almost died, becomes the great god of wine and spreads his cult all over the known world. 

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