Study Guide

Dionysus (The Early Years) Resurrection and Rebirth

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Resurrection and Rebirth

It's probably no coincidence that the main theme of this story is also one of the main themes of the cult of Dionysus. In this story, we see Dionysus born twice in a way: first when he's still a fetus and his mother is obliterated around him, and again when he emerges from the thigh of Zeus. (Does anybody else wonder why Zeus chose to sew him into his thigh exactly?) There are a lot of myths connecting Dionysus with themes of resurrection and rebirth. Some say that he traveled to the Underworld and back to bring Semele back to land of the living. Other myths connect him with the earlier god, Zagreus, who was dismembered and reborn as Dionysus, himself. The theme of resurrection and rebirth surround many gods and religious figures, whether it be the ancient Egyptian Osiris or Christianity's Jesus.

Questions About Resurrection and Rebirth

  1. How can Dionysus be considered as having been born twice?
  2. What other kinds of resurrections are there in the story?
  3. Notice that Dionysus is in a way born both of a female and a male. What might be the significance of that?
  4. Why might the followers of Dionysus have been attracted to a resurrecting god?
  5. Compare and contrast themes of resurrection and rebirth in the story of Dionysus and the Egyptian god, Osiris.

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