Web Analytics


Who Gives the Wine-Aithír


HOME                  GLOSSARY                  RESOURCE                   ART                 LOGOS                CONTACT

Web Analytics

DIÓNYSOS (Dionysus; Gr. Διόνυσος, ΔΙΟΝΥΣΟΣ. Correct pronunciation: The D in Diónysos is pronounced like the soft th in thee, not like the hard th in thesis. The accent is on the second syllable: thee-OH-nee-sohs.) Diónysos is commonly called by the name Vákkhos (Βάκχος) or Anglicized as Bacchus


Diónysos is one of the most important deities in the pantheon of Ællinismόs (Hellenismos, Ἑλληνισμός), the ancient Greek religion, but he is not one of the Twelve Olympian GodsThe suggestion that Æstía (Ἑστία) stepped down and gave her seat to Diónysos is an absurd invention of the English novelist and classicist Robert Graves in his book The Greek MythsWhile his interpretations are often interesting and entertaining, there is no convincing evidence for this idea in antiquity and it is erroneous for many reasons. As just one example, if Diónysos is an Olympian, the Twelve Gods lose their symmetry, for the Olympians consist of six female and six male deities, worshiped in pairs. Many of those who love Diónysos have found Robert Graves’ opinion all over the Internet and suppose it would be a kind of demotion to think that he is not an Olympian, but this too is a huge misunderstanding. It could be said that Orphism is the religion of Diónysos, but the Orphic tradition teaches that he is not an Olympian. The theology of the religion is logical and consistent; it is important that his position and function be understood in relationship to the whole. It is not arbitrary or a matter of opinion. Many people think that there is no theology in Ællinismόs, and that too is a mistake. Diónysos plays a very special role. As you read this brief essay, it is the aspiration of this author that you will begin to understand how hugely important this God is to our religion, despite the fact that he is not an Olympian.



Zefs (Ζεύς), the king and father of Gods and men, the highest of all deities, acts on the soul by means of his son Diónysos. Zefs acts on Earth by means of Diónysos. Zefs is the divine Aithír (Αἰθήρ). Diónysos is the divine Aithír (Αἰθήρ). Diónysos is the action of Zefs on Earth.



Diónysos is the final constituent of the evolutionary progression of Aithír known as the dynasty of the Six Vasileis (Βασιλεῖς [Βασιλεύς is singular]), the Six Kings: Phánis (Φάνης), Nyx (Νύξ), Ouranós (Οὐρανός), Krónos (Κρόνος), Zefs, and Diónysos.



There are two major traditions regarding the birth and early life of Diónysos: he is said to have been born of both Pærsæphóni and also of Sæmǽli. There are other myths giving him different mothers, but the vast majority of authors follow these two major traditions. They are not just different and conflicting stories, but, rather, they represent two separate degrees in his progression as a God. And there is yet another birth, the birth of Diónysos from the leg of Zefs; this is why in the Orphic hymn to the God (O.H. 30.2), he is called Thrice-born (Τρίγονος). Some scholars say that the birth of Diónysos by Pærsæphóni is the Orphic and mystical nativity, in contrast to the story of his birth by Sæmǽli, which is thought of as belonging more to the common or popular religion. This is understandable, because the birth by Pærsæphóni is frequently mentioned in ancient literature considered Orphic, while the surviving fragments do not mention the story of Sæmǽli directly. In reality, both of the mythologies are one tradition; they are both mystic and, as it is said, all the Mystíria (Mysteries, Μυστήρια) have Orphéfs (Orpheus, Ὀρφεύς) at their source.



According to Orphic hymn 29 and many other sources, Diónysos is the son of Zefs and Pærsæphóni (Περσεφόνη[1] by which (in Nόnnos) he is known as Zagréfs (Ζαγρεὐς). This birth is called the first influence of Zefs on the soul of Diónysos.

Mighty Zefs united with Pærsæphóni in the form of a serpent. From this union, Zagréfs was born. Zefs was delighted with his son and enthroned him, giving him his thunderbolts and presenting him to the Gods as their king [2]

The seven pairs of 
Titánæs (Titans, Τιτᾶνες) smeared their faces with gypsum and lured little Zagréfs away from his thunderbolts by giving him seven toys, referred to as The Toys of Diónysos [3]:

1. Mirror (Ǽsoptron, Ἔσοπτρον)

2. Knuckle-Bone (Astrágalos, Ἀστράγαλος)

3. Sphere or Ball (Sphaira, Σφαῖρᾰ)

4. Top (Rómvos, Ρόμβος)

5. Apples (Míla, Μῆλα)

6. Cone (Kóhnos, Κῶνος [Orphic verses] or Stróvilos, Στρόβιλος [Clement])

7. Pókos (Πόκος, tuft of hair)

Zagréfs, fascinated, gazed into the mirror. The Titánæs grasped him and prepared him for a great sacrifice. They cut him into pieces, carefully preserving the heart and limbs. They then took the remaining parts, boiled them, and placed them on spits. These they roasted, and from this they ate a portion 
[4]. Zefs smelled the savor of the ritual and, recognizing what had occurred, sent Athiná (Athena, Ἀθηνᾶ) who retrieved his still-beating heart, bringing it to her father in a silver casket [5]. The limbs of Zagréfs were entrusted to Apóllohn by Zefs and he interred them at Mount Parnassós (Parnassus, Παρνασσός[6]

Mighty Zefs struck the Titánæs with a thunderbolt and from the soot that fell from their burnt bodies he fashioned a new generation of creatures, the Titanic Age, who have immortal souls but who are chained to a sorrowful circle of births and deaths, sometimes being reborn male, sometimes female, and they become tiny things such as insects and worms, and tiny animals of every kind and large animals of every kind, as well as human beings [7]. This creation was the best possible universe constrained by natural laws. Our Kózmos (cosmos, κόσμος) is one of surpassing beauty, yet it is filled with endless pain and suffering. Regarding this sad state of affairs, Zefs, with infinite compassion for his creatures, conceived a wondrous solution.


Now we continue with what is to many readers the more familiar mythology. This is the story of how Diónysos was produced from the union of 
Zefs and Sæmǽli (Σεμέλη), the daughter of Kádmos (Κάδμος) and Armonía (Ἁρμονία[8]. This birth is called the second influence of Zefs on the soul of Diónysos.

Aphrodíti (Ἀφροδίτη) united with Áris (Άρης) and gave birth to Armonía (Harmony). Armonía was given in marriage to Kádmos [8] and they produced several children, but the most beautiful was a daughter whom they named Sæmǽli [9]. Mighty Zefs fell in love with Sæmǽli, impregnated her with the heart of Zagréfs, and promised her anything she desired. Íra (Hera, Ήρα), having discovered the liaison between her husband and the girl, obtained work in the household, disguised as a simple housemaid. She now gained Sæmǽli's confidence and the girl told her of the promise Zefs gave to her. Íra then tricked Sæmǽli into asking Zefs to appear to her in the same form that he had appeared to Íra when Zefs had courted the great Goddess. Sæmǽli took her advice and made the request to Zefs. Unable to refuse because of his oath, Zefs came with his chariot and lightning and thunder. Overwhelmed by the majesty of Zefs, Sæmǽli died in the blazing flames. Zefs now rescued the fetus of Diónysos and sewed the little God into his very own thigh. When the gestation of the infant was up, Zefs undid the stitches and gave birth to Diónysos [10]. Thus, from the heart of Zagréfs a new Diónysos is born who, with Pærsæphóni, will teach men Mysteries, rites and sacrifices to free them from the circle of births [11].

Zefs entrusted the child to mighty 
Ærmís (Hermes, Ἑρμῆς). Ærmís gave the boy-God Diónysos to Athámas (Ἀθάμας) and his wife Inóh Lefkothǽa (Ino Leukothea, Ἰνώ Λευκοθέα), who was sister of Sæmǽli and the daughter of Armonía and Kádmos. Ærmís made them disguise Diónysos as a girl for safekeeping, but Íra saw through their ruse and drove Inóh and Athámas mad. Therefore, Zefs transformed Diónysos into a kid goat and Ærmís took the kid away and left him in the guardianship of the nymphs of Nýsa (Νῦσα) in Asia [12]



The epiphany or birthday of Diónysos is celebrated on December 25, or rather, beginning at sundown the evening before the 25th. This is the commencement of what is called The Twelve Days of Diónysos. There are some who deny that the Christian Christmas holiday could conceal the ancient celebration of the birth of Diónysos, but there is significant evidence for this, much of which is demonstrated on the page for this holiday. Modern Greeks are well aware that Christmas “hides” the ancient holiday and have a history of celebrating it since antiquity.



There are more hymns to Diónysos in the collection known as the Orphic hymns, than to any other deity. In a way, you could say that all of them are, ultimately, in praise of this God, but the principal hymn to Diónysos is number 30. In old editions of Thomas Taylor, the translation we prefer, the hymn was numbered 29 (To Bacchus). All the hymns in these editions are off by one increment but this numbering problem has been corrected in the Prometheus Trust publication of Taylor's translations entitled Hymns and Initiations.

Next follows a list of all the Orphic hymns which relate, in one way or another, to Diόnysos.

 29. PÆRSÆPHÓNI (Περσεφόνη)  

30. DIÓNYSOS (Διόνυσος)

42. MÍSA (Μίσα)  

44. SÆMǼLI (Σεμέλη

45. DIÓNYSOS VASSARǼOHS (Διόνυσος Βασσαρέως)  

46. LIKNÍTIS (Λικνίτης

47. PÆRIKIÓNIOS (Περικῑόνιος

48. SAVÁZIOS (Σαβάζιος)

49. ÍPTA (Ἵπτα)  

50. LYSÍOS-LINAIOS (Λυσίος Ληναίος)

52. TRIETIRIKOS (Τριετηρικός

53. AMPHIÆTOUS  (Ἀμφιετοῦς)

54. SEILINÓS, SÁTYROS, VÁKKHAI (Σειληνός, Σάτυρος, Βάκχαι)

74. LEFKOTHǼA (Λευκοθέα)

75. PALAIMOHN (Παλαίμων) 



In Iconography, Diónysos is depicted in several ways: Diónysos the infant, Diónysos the beautiful long-haired youth, and Diónysos the mature bearded and richly adorned God. He often holds a fennel staff with a pine-cone at its end called the Thýrsos (Θύρσος). His head is almost always crowned with grape-leaves and even bunches of grapes, although at times he bears a royal crown. Sometimes Diónysos is wearing the skin of a panther. In his entourage can be found Mainádæs (Maenads, Μαινάδες), his female devotees, and Sátyri (Satyrs, Σάτυροι). He can be seen riding a tiger, or even a lion, an ass, or a panther.  Diónysos is often portrayed holding a wine-cup. 



The origins of Theater in the western hemisphere have their roots in ancient Greece, with their origin in the festivals of Diónysos called the Rural Dionýsia (Διονύσια). It is said that the plays began as performances of songs by groups of men in goat-masks, the goat being sacred to the God.



The etymology of the name Diónysos (Διόνυσος) is Διός (genitive of Zefs) + οἶνος (wine), “the Wine of Zefs.”

Diós is the name used to designate the dividing (Dionysian) power of Zefs; the name Zefs itself is used to designate the uniting (Apollonian) power of the God.

The word Diónysos can have several meanings:


1) Diónysos is the action of Zefs on the soul.

2) Any deified soul is a Diónysos, referred to in the feminine because she has accepted the influence of Zefs on her soul, but such a Diónysos is not necessarily the Diónysos (as in 3 below).


3) Diónysos is a personal God, a particular God, one of the Six Kings (Βασιλεῖς). Who is the Diónysos? Diónysos Vasiléfs is the successor, the successor to Zefs [13]. What does this mean? Zefs acts through Diónysos who embodies his will and is king.


Wine or Ínos (οἶνος) and its intoxicating character is a major symbol in Hellenic mythology, but it must be understood that it is symbolic. Its primary association is with Diónysos. Wine is representative of the divine Aithír (Αἰθήρ), of the influence of Zefs on the soul. Dark red sweet wine is symbolic of the blood [14], the Ikhóhr (Ιχώρ) of Diónysos, and therefore used in libation as a type of sacrifice. As the Titánæs (Titans, Τιτᾶνες) ate of his body in a great sacrifice, we partake of the God's essence by drinking the wine.

The poet Nónnos in the 12th book of his Διονυσιακά tells the story of how the Thrakian Sátyros (Satyr, Σάτυρος) Ámbælos (Ἄμπελος, “grapevine”), a lover of Diónysos, was killed by a bull. The God revived his beloved companion in the form of the grapevine from which the wine comes forth. In the same chapter Nónnos refers to wine as Ikhóhr. [15]


Looking around the various websites and discussion groups, we find Diónysos described as the king of drunkenness and irrationality. He is often contrasted with his brother Apóllohn who exemplifies moderation and reason. While it can be understood where these ideas come from (greatly exaggerated by Nietzsche and others), somehow the reality of who this God is escapes such reduction, but his purpose is clearly stated in the Orphic fragments and elsewhere. Nónnos (Νόννος) writes of Sæmǽli, that her son loosens our sufferings and brings great joy to both Gods and men. [16]

Why has Diónysos come? The Orphic Rhapsodic Theogony is very clear. Zefs has created a new generation of beings, our generation. This is the best generation possible constrained by natural laws, constrained by laws to which even the Gods are subject. Although we have opportunities to experience the wondrous beauty that our world offers, there is also gripping pain. We have immortal souls from our Father, but we have mortal bodies. If we live a long life, old age will rob us of our beauty and health. Eventually sickness or violence takes us down. After death our souls wander to find new bodies and we repeat this cycle endlessly, becoming male and female and every kind of creature in a relentless circle of births (κύκλος γενέσεως). This process is not voluntary, but Zefs foresaw our lot; he looked upon his children with great compassion and devised a plan: Zefs conceived a great son, Diónysos, who has come to us with his Mysteries to free us from the sorrowful cycle of births [11]. Diónysos is the fulfillment of the providence of Zefs. Diónysos is the action of Zefs working on earth in a magnanimous plan to save us from our suffering.



This is a short list of festivals celebrated currently by own community. There are many others: 


Twelve Days of Diónysos

Please also visit the following related links:

The Orphic Hymn to Diónysos
Diónysos - The Epithets I: A through K
The Wine of Diónysos
The Toys of Diónysos

The story of the birth of the GodsOrphic Rhapsodic Theogony.
We know the various qualities and characteristics of the Gods based on metaphorical stories: Mythology
Dictionary of terms related to ancient Greek mythology: Glossary of Hellenic Mythology.

Introduction to the Thæí (the Gods): The Nature of the Gods.
How do we know there are Gods? Experiencing Gods.


[1] Citations regarding the parentage of Zagréfs-Diónysos:

Kern Orphic Frag. 58 (41) Ἀθηναγόρας Pro Christian 20 p. 22, 10 Schw.:

εἶθ´ ὅτι Φερσεφόνῃ τῇ θυγατρὶ ἐμίγη βιασάμενος καὶ ταύτην ἐν δράκοντος σχήματι, ἐξ ἧς παῖς Διόνυσος αὐτῷ· 

"...how he (Ζεύς) violating mingled with his daughter Pærsæphóni and again in the form of a serpent, thereby became the father of Diónysos;" (trans. by the author) 

Orphic Hymn 29.8:

μῆτερ ἐριβρεμέτου πολυμόρφου Εὐβουλῆος

“mother of loud-thundering many-formed Évvoulefs” (trans. by the author. Εὐβουλεύς is an epithet of Diónysos)

Orphic Hymn 30.6-7:

Διὸς καὶ Περσεφονείης

ἀρρήτοις λέκτροισι τεκνωθείς

“Zefs and Pærsæphóni bore you (Διόνυσος) on a secret bed” (trans. by the author)

[2] Νόννου Διονυσιακά 6.155-168 includes the story of the seduction of Pærsæphóni as well as the birth and kingship of Zagréfs.

Kern Orphic frag. 207. (191) Πρόκλος Commentary on Τίμαιος Πλάτωνος 42d (III 310, 30 Diehl)

ὁ γὰρ Ζεὺς βασιλέα (fr. 208) τίθησι αὐτὸν | 311 Diehl ἁπάντων τῶν ἐγκοσμίων θεῶν καὶ πρωτίστας αὐτῶι  νέμει τιμάς·


“For Zefs set him up as king of all the Gods of the world and dispensed to him foremost honors.” (trans. by the author)

Kern Orphic frag. 208. (190) Πρόκλος Commentary on Πλάτωνος Κρατύλος 396b p. 55, 5 Pasq. in which Próklos directly quotes the Orphic text:

κλῦτε, θεοί· τόν δ' ὔμμιν ἐγὼ βασιλήα τίθημι 

(Zefs speaks) "Hear me, you Gods: this one (Διόνυσος) I establish as king." (trans. by the author)

[3] The Christian theologian Clement of Alexandria, in his criticism of the religion and the Mysteries lists the Toys of Diónysos and much of the mythology of his sacrifice:

Τὰ γὰρ Διονύσου μυστήρια τέλεον ἀπάνθρωπα: ὃυ εἰσέτι παῖδα ὄντα ἐνόπλῳ κινήσει περιχορευόντων Κουρήτων, δόλῳ δὲ ὑποδύντων Τιτάνων, ἀπατήσαντες παιδαριώδεσιν ἀθύρμασιν, οὗτοι δὴ οἱ Τιτᾶνες διέσπασαν, ἔτι νηπίαχον ὄντα, ὡς ὁ τῆς Τελετῆς ποιητὴς Ὀρφεύς φησιν ὁ Θρᾴκιος·


κῶνος καὶ ῥόμβος καὶ παίγνια καμπεσίγυια, μῆλά τε χρύσεα καλὰ παῤ Ἑσπερίδων λιγυφώνων.


καὶ τῆσδε ὑμῖν τῆς τελετῆς τὰ ἀχρεῖα σύμβολα οὐκ ἀχρεῖον εἰς κατάγνωσιν παραθέσθαι: ἀστράγαλος, σφαῖρα, στρόβιλος, μῆλα, ῥόμβος, ἔσοπτρον, πόκος. 

"The mysteries of Dionysus are of a perfectly savage character. He was yet a child and the Curetes were dancing around him with warlike movement, when the Titans stealthily drew near. First they beguiled him with childish toys, and then, --- tore him to pieces, though he was but an infant. Orpheus of Thrace, the poet of the Initiation, speaks of the


Top, wheel and jointed dolls, with beauteous fruit

Of gold from the clear-voiced Hesperides.


And it is worth while to quote the worthless symbols of this rite of yours in order to excite condemnation: the knuckle-bone, the ball, the spinning-top, apples, wheel, mirror, fleece!”


(Κλήμης ὁ Ἀλεξανδρεύς Προτρεπτικὸς πρὸς Ἕλληνας, Chapter 2 Description of the Greek Mysteries; trans. G. W. Butterworth, 1919.)    

Arnobius of Sicca, the Berber early Christian apologist, gives a shorter list (Against the Heathen 5.19.): Mirror, Dice, Balls, Tops, Golden Apples, and Hoops. 

 Hidden in this mythology, the Titánæs, whose name, according to Isíodos (Hesiod, Ἡσίοδος) Th. 207, is derived from τιταίνω ("to stretch"), are opening ("stretching") the seven centers of Diónysos' soul. Citations:

Kern Orphic frag. 34: the Titánæs (Titans) tore him apart. See note 3 above.
Kern Orphic frag. 35: the Titánæs tore him apart, boiled the parts (not the heart), roasted them on spits, and ate a portion. See note 5 below.

Kern Orphic frag. 210. (198. 199) Πρόκλος Commentary on Τίμαιος Πλάτωνος 35 a (II 145, 18 Diehl):

μούνην γὰρ κραδίην νοερὴν λίπον


“for the intellectual heart alone was left behind” (trans. by the author)


ἑπτὰ δὲ πάντα μέλη κούρου διεμοιρήσαντο

“all the seven parts of the boy they divided” (trans. by the author)

Kern Orphic frag. 214. (200) Λόγος 9.4 Ἱμερίου (Himerius, Oratio 9.4):

ἦν νέος ἔτι Διόνυσος καὶ κατὰ τοῦ θεοῦ τὸ τῶν Τελχίνων γένος ἐφύετο· ηὐξάνετο Βάκχος καὶ Τιτάνες πάντες διερρήγνυντο φθόνωι· τέλος δέ, μὴ στέγειν δυνάμενοι, διασπάσαι τοῦτον ἠθέλησαν, τέχνας δ' ἐμελέτων καὶ φάρμακα καὶ κέντρα διαβολῆς καὶ φύσεως μαγγανεύματα

"Diónysos was yet young and the race of Tælkhínæs (Τελχῖνες) rained upon the God; this while Vákkhos was growing up and all the Titánæs were bursting with envy; whereas this outcome, unable to prevent, they desired to tear him apart, they contrived skillfulness and poisons and tortures of enmity and trickery." (trans. by the author)

ὁ γὰρ Ζεὺς ἐποπτεύων ἑώρα πάντα καὶ τὸν Διόνυσον ἐγείρας, ὡς λόγος

"For overseeing Zefs, witnessing all, raised Diónysos from the dead, that he may have esteem"
 (trans. by the author)

Hyginus Fabulae 155 Iovis Filii

Liber ex Proserpina, quem Titanes carpserunt.

"Diónysos (Liber) by Pærsæphóni (Proserpine or Persephone), the Titánæs tore him apart." (trans. by the author)

Νόννου Διονυσιακά 6.169-173:

οὐδὲ Διὸς θρόνον εἶχεν ἐπὶ χρόνον: ἀλλά ἑ γύψῳ

κερδαλέῃ χρισθέντες ἐπίκλοπα κύκλα προσώπου

δαίμονος ἀστόργοιο χόλῳ βαρυμήνιος Ἥρης

Ταρταρίῃ Τιτῆνες ἐδηλήσαντο μαχαίρῃ

ἀντιτύπῳ νόθον εἶδος ὀπιπεύοντα κατόπτρῳ.


“But not for a long time did he possess the throne of Zefs: with disguising gypsum

rubbed on each round face,

inspired by the unfeeling anger of wrathful Goddess Íra,

the Tartarian Titánæs wounded him with a sacrificial knife

as he stared at his illusive form in a mirror.” (trans. by the author)

Παυσανίου Ἑλλάδος Περιήγησις, Book 7 Ἀχαΐας 18.4:

ὁπόσα δὲ οἱ Πατρεῖς περὶ Διονύσου λέγουσι, τραφῆναί τε αὐτὸν ἐν τῇ Μεσάτει καὶ ἐνταῦθα ἐπιβουλευθέντα ὑπὸ Τιτάνων ἐς παντοῖον ἀφικέσθαι κίνδυνον, οὐκ ἐναντιούμενος τοῖς


“As for the many tales from the people of Pátrai (Πάτραι) concerning Diónysos, that he was raised in Mæsátis (Μεσάτις) and there coming into all sorts of danger from the plotting of the Titánæs, I will not oppose...” (trans. by the author)

Παυσανίου Ἑλλάδος Περιήγησις, Book 8 Ἀρκαδίας 37.5:

παρὰ δὲ Ὁμήρου Ὀνομάκριτος παραλαβὼν τῶν Τιτάνων τὸ ὄνομα Διονύσῳ τε συνέθηκεν ὄργια καὶ εἶναι τοὺς Τιτᾶνας τῷ Διονύσῳ τῶν παθημάτων ἐποίησεν αὐτουργούς.


From Ómiros (Homer, Ὅμηρος) Onomákritos derived the name of the Titánæs and in the rites he created for Diónysos he rendered the Titánæs the source of Diónysos’ afflictions. (trans. by the author)

Kern Orphic frag. 35. (200) Κλήμης ὁ Ἀλεξανδρεύς, Προτρεπτικὸς πρὸς Ἕλληνας II 18, 1. 2 (I 14, 16 Staeh):

Ἀθηνᾶ μὲν οὖν τὴν καρδίαν τοῦ Διονύσου ὑφελομένη Παλλὰς ἐκ τοῦ πάλλειν τὴν καρδίαν προσηγορεύθη: οἱ δὲ Τιτᾶνες, οἱ καὶ διασπάσαντες αὐτόν, λέβητά τινα τρίποδι ἐπιθέντες καὶ τοῦ Διονύσου ἐμβαλόντες τὰ μέλη, καθήψουν πρότερον: ἔπειτα ὀβελίσκοις περιπείραντες ‘ὑπείρεχον Ἡφαίστοιο.' Ζεὺς δὲ ὕστερον ἐπιφανείς ῾εἰ θεὸς ἦν, τάχα που τῆς κνίσης τῶν ὀπτωμένων κρεῶν μεταλαβών, ἧς δὴ τὸ ‘γέρας λαχεῖν' ὁμολογοῦσιν ὑμῶν οἱ θεοἴ κεραυνῷ τοὺς Τιτᾶνας αἰκίζεται καὶ τὰ μέλη τοῦ Διονύσου Ἀπόλλωνι τῷ παιδὶ παρακατατίθεται καταθάψαι. ὁ δέ, οὐ γὰρ ἠπείθησε Διί, εἰς τὸν Παρνασσὸν φέρων κατατίθεται διεσπασμένον τὸν νεκρόν.

“Now Athena made off with the heart of Dionysus, and received the name Pallas from its palpitating. But the Titans, they who tore him to pieces, placed a caldron upon a tripod, and casting the limbs of Dionysus into it first boiled them down; then, piercing them with spits, they ‘held them over Hephaestus (ed. this God is associated with fire).’ Later on Zeus appeared; perhaps, since he was a God, because he smelt the steam of the flesh that was cooking, which your Gods admit they ‘receive as their portion.’ He plagues the Titans with thunder, and entrusts the limbs of Dionysus to his son Apollo for burial. In obedience to Zeus, Apollo carries the mutilated corpse to Parnassus and lays it to rest.”

 (Κλήμης ὁ Ἀλεξανδρεύς Προτρεπτικὸς πρὸς Ἕλληνας, Chapter 2 Description of the Greek Mysteries; trans. G. W. Butterworth, 1919.)  

Kern Orphic frag. 210: See note 4 above.

[6] Kern Orphic frag. 35: See note 5 above.

Kern Orphic frag. 216. (202-204) Πρόκλος Commentary on Κρατύλος Πλάτωνος 406c p. 108, 13 Pasqu.:

Οἴνου πάντα μέλη κόσμωι λαβὲ καὶ μοι ἔνεικε·


“Seize accordingly all the limbs of Wine and bring them to me.” (trans. by the author)

Kern Orphic frag.140 Πρόκλος Commentary on Πολιτεία Πλάτωνος II 74, 26 Kr.

ὁ μὲν θεολόγος Ὀ. τρία γένη παραδέδωκεν ἀνθρώπων· πρώτιστον τὸ χρυσούν, ὅπερ ὑποστῆσαι τὸν Φάνητά φησιν· δεύτερον τὸ ἀργυροῦν, οὗ φησιν ἄρχαι τὸν μέγιστον Κρόνον· τρίτον τὸ Τιτανικόν, ὅ φησιν ἐκ τῶν Τιτανικών μελῶν τὸν Δία συστήσασθαι

"Whereas the Theologian Orphéfs conveys that there are three generations of men: the very first a Golden age said to be of Phánis; the second Silver brought forth by mighty Krónos; the third is the Titanic age formed of the Titanic limbs of Zefs." (trans. by the author)
Kern Orphic frag. 223. (224) Πρόκλος Commentary on Πολιτεία Πλάτωνος II 339, 17 Kr.:

αἱ µὲν δὴ θηρῶν τε καὶ οἰωνῶν πτεροέντων

ψυχαὶ ὅτ' ἀίξωσι, λίπῃ δέ µιν ἱερὸς αἰών,

τῶν οὔ τις ψυχὴν παράγει δόµον εἰς Ἀίδαο,

ἀλλ' αὐτοῦ πεπότηται ἐτώσιον, εἰς ὅ κεν αὐτὴν

ἄλλο ἀφαρπάζῃ µίγδην ἀνέµοιο πνοῇσιν·

ὁππότε δ' ἄνθρωπος προλίπῃ φάος ἠελίοιο,

ψυχὰς ἀθανάτας κατάγει Κυλλήνιος Ἑρµῆς

γαίης ἐς κευθµῶνα πελώριον·


When beasts and feathered birds

Their souls dart forth, and sacred life quits them,

Not one is led to the cold house of Ádis (ᾍδης)

But it flutters fruitlessly alone, when some other creature

Snatch it up while mingling with the gusts of wind;

But when man leaves the light of the sun,

The immortal souls are led by Ærmís Kyllínios (Κυλλήνιος)

To the mighty abyss of the earth. (trans. by the author)

Orphic frag. 224. (222. 223) Πρόκλος Commentary on Πολιτεία Πλάτωνος II 338, 10 Kr.:

οἱ δ' αὐτοὶ πατέρες τε καὶ υἱέες ἐν μεγάροισιν
εὔκοσμοί τ' ἄλοχοι καὶ μητέρες ἠδὲ θύγατρες
γίνοντ' ἀλλήλων μεταμειβομένηισι γενέθλαις.

“The same yet are fathers and sons of the house,
the orderly wives and mothers and daughters
come about changing into each otherthrough the generations.” (trans. by the author)

οὕνεκ' ἀμειβομένη ψυχὴ κατὰ κύκλα χρόνοιο
ἀνθρώπων ζώιοισι μετέρχεται ἄλλοθεν ἄλλοις·
ἄλλοτε μέν θ' ἵππος, τότε γίνεται - - - - - -
ἄλλοτε δὲ πρόβατον, τότε δ' ὄρνεον αἰνὸν ἰδέσθαι,
ἄλλοτε δ' αὖ κύνεον τε δέμας φωνή τε βαρεῖα,
καὶ ψυχρῶν ὀφίων ἕρπει γένος ἐν χθονὶ δίῃ.

“Wherefore the transforming soul goes down in the circles of time,
that of men to come next as animals.
At one time a horse, then it becomes …
at another time a cow, at times a bird, behold such dread!
...at another time in the shape of a dog with its strong bark,
and the cold race of snakes crawling upon the sacred earth.” (trans. by the author)

Orphic frag. 228. Vettius Valens, Ἀνθολογία Liber IX 1 p. 330, 23 Kr. (v etiam Catalog. cod. astrolog. Graec. V 2, 49):

καθὼς καὶ ὁ θειότατος Ὀ. λέγει·

ψυχὴ δ' ἀνθρώποισιν ἀν' αἰθέρος ἐρρίζωται.
ἀέρα δ' ἕλκοντες ψυχὴν θείαν δρεπόµεσθα.
ψυχὴ δ' ἀθάνατος καὶ ἀγήρως ἐκ Διός ἐστιν.
ψυχὴ δ' ἀθάνατος πάντων, τὰ δὲ σώµατα θνητά.

“Just as also the divine Orphéfs says:

a   The soul of man is firmly rooted in the Aithír.
b   As we breathe in the air we reap the divine soul.
c   The soul is immortal and unaging and is from Zefs. 
d   The soul is immortal, but the bodies are subject to death.” (trans. by the author)

Orphic frag. 233. (76) Ἰωάννης Μαλάλας, Χρονογραφία IV 91 p. 74 Dind. ~ Georg. Cedrin. Histor. compend. I 103 Bekk., v. etiam Suid. s. : 

Ὀρφεύς.  τὸ δὲ τῶν ἀνθρώ πων γένος εἶπεν ὑπ' αὐτοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ πλασθέντα ἐκ γῆς καὶ ψυχὴν ὑπ' αὐτοῦ λαβόντα λογικήν,

“He (Orphéfs) said that the race of men was formed by God from earth and received from him a soul that is rational” (trans. by the author)

[8] "... and Harmonia whom high-spirited Cadmus made his wife."  (Θεογονία Ἡσιόδου 938 trans. Evelyn-White, 1914) 

[9]  "After his (ed. Kadmos) servitude (ed. for having slew the dragon of Áris) Athena procured for him the kingdom, and Zeus gave him to wife Harmonia, daughter of Aphrodite and Ares....And to Cadmus were born daughters, Autone, Ino, Semele...." (Βιβλιοθήκη Ἀπολλοδώρου Book 3.4.2, trans. by J.G. Frazer, 1921) 

[10] "But Zeus loved Semele and bedded with her unknown to Hera. Now Zeus had agreed to do for her whatever she asked, and deceived by Hera she asked that he would come to her as he came when he was wooing Hera. Unable to refuse, Zeus came to her bridal chamber in a chariot, with lightnings and thunderings, and launched a thunderbolt. But Semele expired of fright, and Zeus, snatching the sixth-month abortive child from the fire, sewed it in his thigh. ....... But at the proper time Zeus undid the stitches and gave birth to Dionysus, and entrusted him to Hermes." (Βιβλιοθήκη Ἀπολλοδώρου Book 3.4.3, trans. by J.G. Frazer, 1921.)

[11] Kern Orphic frag. 229 Πρόκλος Commentary on Τίμαιος Πλάτωνος  42c. d (III 297, 3 Diehl):

“…those initiated by Orphéfs into the Mysteries of Diónysos and Kóri, pray they may procure along with:


κύκλου τ' ἂν λήξαι καὶ ἀναπνεύσαι κακότητος


“the end of the circle (ed. of births) and respite from misery.” (trans. by the author)

 Kern Orphic frag. 230 Σιμπλίκιος Commentary on Περὶ οὐρανοῦ Ἀριστοτέλους II 1, 284 a 14 (377, 12 Heib.):


γενέσεως τροχῷ, οὗπερ ἀδύνατον ἀπαλλαγῆναι κατὰ τὸν Ὀρφέα μὴ τοὺς

θεοὺς ἐκείνους ἱλεωσάμενον


οἷς ἐπέταξεν ὁ Ζεὺς

κύκλου τ' ἀλλῆξαι καὶ ἀναψῦξαι κακότητος τὰς ἀνθρωπίνας ψυχάς


The wheel of coming into being, that from which we are unable to be liberated, according to the Orphic teaching, unless one has gained the favor of those Gods:


Zeus enjoined the souls of man to both cease from the circle (ed. of births) and to releave them of misery.” (trans. by the author)

 Kern Orphic frag. 232. (208) Ὀλυμπιόδωρος Commentary on Φαίδων Πλάτωνος Β ιά p. 87, 13 Norv.:

ἄνθρωποι δὲ τεληέσσας ἑϰατόμβας

πέμψουσιν πάσηισι ἐν ὥραις ἀμφιέτηισιν

ὄργια τ' ἐϰτελέσουσι λύσιν προγόνων ἀθεμίστων

μαιόμενοι· σὺ δὲ τοῖσιν ἔχων ϰράτος, οὕς ϰ' ἐθέληισθα,

λύσεις ἔϰ τε πόνων χαλεπῶν ϰαὶ ἀπείρονος οἴστρου.


“Men will conduct perfect hecatombs in all the seasons of the year and will conclude the mystic orgies, seeking to be loosed from their lawless lineage; in turn you who possess sovereignty over these things, will free them from painful suffering and boundless irritation.” (trans. by the author)

[12] "And he conveyed him to Ino and Athamas, and persuaded them to rear him as a girl.  But Hera indignantly drove them mad, and Athamas hunted his elder son Learchus as a deer and killed him, and Ino threw Melicertes into a boiling cauldron, then carrying it with the dead child she sprang into the deep.  And she herself is called Leucothea, and the boy is called Palaemon, such being the names they get from sailors; for they succour storm-tossed mariners.  And the Isthmian games were instituted by Sisyphus in honour of Melicertes.  But Zeus eluded the wrath of Hera by turning Dionysus into a kid, and Hermes brought him to the nymphs who dwelt at Nysa in Asia, whom Zeus afterwards changed into stars and named them the Hyades." (Βιβλιοθήκη Ἀπολλοδώρου Book 3.4.3, trans. by J.G. Frazer, 1921.) 

[13] See above note 2 as well as the below citations:

Extract from Πρόκλος Commentary on Πλάτων Κρατύλος, found in The Theology of Plato: Proclus:

"For Night (Nyx) receives the sceptre from Phanes; Heaven (Ouranós) derives from Night, the dominion over wholes; and Bacchus (Diónysos) who is the last king of the Gods receives the kingdom from Jupiter (Zeus). For the father (Zeus) establishes him in the royal throne, puts into his hand the sceptre, and makes him the king of all the mundane Gods.


'Hear me ye Gods, I place over you a king.' " (trans. Thomas Taylor, 1816)


κλῦτε, θεοί· τόν δ' ὔμμιν ἐγὼ βασιλήα τίθημι


Kern Orphic frag. 218 states that Diónysos ruled after Zefs. See note 2 above.

Νόννου Διονυσιακά  at 6.164-168, at 10.292-299, and at 39. 70-73 speaks of the child-God Zagréfs carrying the thunderbolts, the symbol of Zefs’ power.

Orphic hymn Hymn 54. Σιληνοῦ, σατύρου, Βακχῶν:

(Addressed to Σειληνός) "Come, rouse to sacred Joy thy pupil king..." (trans. Thomas Taylor, 1787)

Πρόκλος Commentary on Τίμαιος Πλάτωνος


- "... p. 191. as follows.


'Orpheus delivers the kings of the Gods, who preside over the universe according to a perfect number; Phanes (Φάνης), Night (Νύξ), Heaven (Οὐρανός), Saturn (Κρόνος), Jupiter (Ζεύς), Bacchus (Διόνυσος). For Phanes is first adorned with a scepter, is the first king, and the celebrated Ericapæus (Ἠριϰεπαῖος). But the second king is Night, who receives the sceptre from the father Phanes. The third is Heaven, invested with government from Night. The fourth Saturn, the oppressor as they say of his father. The fifth is Jupiter, the ruler of his father. And the sixth of these is Bacchus."  


(The Mystical Hymns of Orpheus by Thomas Taylor, 1787, p. 119; in a footnote to hymn 6. Πρωτογόνου.)

[14] Νόννου Διονυσιακά 12.316.

[15] Νόννου Διονυσιακά 12.293.

[16] Νόννου 
Διονυσιακά 7.367.

The logo to the left is the principal symbol of this website. It is called the CESS logo, i.e. the Children of the Earth and the Starry Sky. The Pætilía (Petelia, Πετηλία) and other golden tablets having this phrase (Γῆς παῖς εἰμί καὶ Οὐρανοῦ ἀστερόεντος) are the inspiration for the symbol. The image represents this idea: Earth (divisible substance) and the Sky (continuous substance) are the two kozmogonic substances. The twelve stars represent the Natural Laws, the dominions of the Olympian Gods. In front of these symbols is the seven-stringed kithára (cithara, κιθάρα), the lyre of Apóllohn (Apollo, Ἀπόλλων). It (here) represents the bond between Gods and mortals and is representative that we are the children of Orphéfs (Orpheus, Ὀρφεύς).

PLEASE NOTE: Throughout the pages of this website, you will find fascinating stories about our Gods. These narratives are known as mythology, the traditional stories of the Gods and Heroes. While these tales are great mystical vehicles containing transcendent truth, they are symbolic and should not be taken literally. A literal reading will frequently yield an erroneous result. The meaning of the myths is concealed in code. To understand them requires a key. For instance, when a God kills someone, this usually means a transformation of the soul to a higher level. Similarly, sexual union with a God is a transformation.

The story of the birth of the Gods: Orphic Rhapsodic Theogony.
We know the various qualities and characteristics of the Gods based on metaphorical stories: Mythology
Dictionary of terms related to ancient Greek mythology: Glossary of Hellenic Mythology.

SPELLING: HellenicGods.org uses the Reuchlinian method of pronouncing ancient Greek, the system preferred by scholars from Greece itself. An approach was developed to enable the student to easily approximate the Greek words. Consequently, the way we spell words is unique, as this method of transliteration is exclusive to this website. For more information, visit these three pages: 

PHOTO COPYRIGHT INFORMATION: The many pages of this website incorporate images, some created by the author, but many obtained from outside sources. To find out more information about these images and why this website can use them, visit this link: Photo Copyright Information

DISCLAIMER: The inclusion of images, quotations, and links from outside sources does not in any way imply agreement (or disagreement), approval (or disapproval) with the views of HellenicGods.org by the external sources from which they were obtained.

Further, the inclusion of images, quotations, and links from outside sources does not in any way imply agreement (or disagreement), approval (or disapproval) by HellenicGods.org of the contents or views of any external sources from which they were obtained.

For more information: Inquire.hellenicgods@gmail.com

For answers to many questions: Hellenismos FAQ

© 2010 by HellenicGods.org.  All Rights Reserved.