Study Guide

Dionysus, Pentheus, and Agave Dionysus (Bacchus)

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Dionysus (Bacchus)

Dionysus is a total party animal. He's the god of wine and revelry so you really can't blame him. Inspiring people to drink vats of wine and dance till they reach a state of total ecstasy is just in his job description. When he pops up in Thebes to get the party started, though, the stuffy King Pentheus gives him some not-so-stiff opposition.

The D-man has a lot to prove when he shows up in Thebes. For one, this is the town his mom, Semele, was from. He knows everybody in Thebes thinks his mom got pregnant from some random mortal dude instead of Zeus. So, when he proves that he's a god by putting all the women in town under his spell, he's also proving that his mom isn't... um... of loose moral character. (Except where Zeus in concerned, which we guess is okay because he's a god and all.)

Getting the Thebans to worship him is also a big deal for Dionysus, because it's the first city in Greece where he's trying to spark up his wine-swilling cult. It might not be quite as easy a sell as you might think. Fun as they sound, the Bacchanals also have a dark side. The rituals were designed to open up the wildest, most primal places in human beings. When that door gets opened, pretty crazy things can happen. You know like breastfeeding wild animals, ripping live bulls apart, eating raw flesh, and (as in Agave's case) tearing the head from your own son. (Yup, that's crazy.)

There's a ton more to know about the wildest god of all time. Click here and here for more.

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