Bible Articles on the Topic of Dionysus

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And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be ye filled with the Spirit. (Ephesians 5:18)


Dionysus, (Διόνυσος, 2 Maccabees 6:7; 14:33, “Bacchus;” in classical writers sometimes Διώνυσος, of uncertain derivation), also called BACCHUS (Βάκχος, ῎Ιακχος, the noisy god; after the time of Herodotus), was properly the god of wine. He is represented as being the son of Jupiter and Semele. In Homer he appears simply as the “frenzied” god (Il. 6:132), and yet “a joy to mortals” (Il. 14:325); but in later times the most varied attributes were centered in him as the source of the luxuriant fertility of nature, and the god of civilization, gladness, and inspiration. The Eastern wanderings of Dionysus are well known (Strabo, 15:7, page 687), but they do not seem to have left any special trace in Palestine (yet comp. Lucan, de Syria Dea, page 886, ed. Bened.). His worship, however, was greatly modified by the incorporation of Eastern elements, and assumed the twofold form of wild orgies and mystic rites. SEE DIONYSIA. To the Jews Dionysus would necessarily appear as the embodiment of paganism in its most material shape, sanctioning the most tumultuous passions and the worst excesses. Thus Tacitus (Hist. 5:5) rejects the tradition that the Jews worshipped Bacchus (Liberum patrem; compare Plutarch, Quaest. Conv. 4:6), on the ground of the “entire diversity of their principles” (nequaquam congruentibus institutis), though he interprets the difference to their discredit. The consciousness of the fundamental opposition of the God of Israel and Dionysus explains the punishment which Ptolemaeus Philopator inflicted on the Jews (3 Maccabees 2:29), “branding them with the ivy-leaf of Dionysus” (this plant being sacred to him, Plutarch, Isid. et Osir. 37; Ovid, Fasti, 3:767), though Dionysus may have been the patron god of the Ptolemies (Grimm on the Macc.). It must have been from the same circumstance that Nicanor is said to have threatened to erect a temple of Dionysus upon the site of the Temple at Jerusalem (2 Maccabees 14:33). — Smith, s.v. See Nicolai, De ritu antiquo Bacchanali (in Gronovii Thesaur. 7); Moritz, Mythology of the Gr. and Romans Eng. tr. page 103; Smith, Diet. of Class. Mythol. s.v. Dionysus. Comp. SEE BACCHUS.

Ancient Greek religion

Ancient Greek religion encompasses the collection of beliefs, rituals, and mythology originating in ancient Greece in the form of both popular public religion and cult practices. These different groups varied enough for it to be possible to speak of Greek religions or “cults” in the plural, though most of them shared similarities.


Dionysus (/daɪ.əˈnaɪsəs/; Greek: Διόνυσος, Dionysos) is the god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine, of ritual madness, fertility, theatre and religious ecstasy in Greek mythology. Wine played an important role in Greek culture with the cult of Dionysus the main religious focus for unrestrained consumption. His name, thought to be a theonym in Linear B tablets as di-wo-nu-so (KH Gq 5 inscription), shows that he may have been worshipped as early as c. 1500–1100 BC by Mycenean Greeks; other traces of the Dionysian-type cult have been found in ancient Minoan Crete. His origins are uncertain, and his cults took many forms; some are described by ancient sources as Thracian, others as Greek. In some cults, he arrives from the east, as an Asiatic foreigner; in others, from Ethiopia in the South. He is a god of epiphany, “the god that comes,” and his “foreignness” as an arriving outsider-god may be inherent and essential to his cults. He is a major, popular figure of Greek mythology and religion, becoming increasingly important over time, and is included in some lists of the twelve Olympians. Dionysus was the last god to be accepted into Mt. Olympus. He was the youngest and the only one to have a mortal mother. His festivals were the driving force behind the development of Greek theatre. He is sometimes categorised as a dying-and-rising god.

Glossary of ancient Roman religion

The vocabulary of ancient Roman religion was highly specialized. Its study affords important information about the religion, traditions and beliefs of the ancient Romans. This legacy is conspicuous in European cultural history in its influence on later juridical and religious vocabulary in Europe, particularly of the Western Church. This glossary provides explanations of concepts as they were expressed in Latin pertaining to religious practices and beliefs, with links to articles on major topics such as priesthoods, forms of divination, and rituals.

Religion in ancient Rome

Religion in ancient Rome encompasses the ancestral ethnic religion of the city of Rome that the Romans used to define themselves as a people, as well as the adopted religious practices of peoples brought under Roman rule. The Romans thought of themselves as highly religious, and attributed their success as a world power to their collective piety (pietas) in maintaining good relations with the gods.