n Greek mythology Dionysus is the god of nature and the god of wine and inspiration. He was also the god of ecstasy and his cult was one of the mystery religions. It was said that it was Dionysus who first produced wine from the fruit of the vine. He is also known for spreading the art of how to tend the grapes properly.
His nature reflected very much the nature of wine. On one had he could bring joy and unbelievable ecstasy. On the other hand he could bring unthinkable rage which often led to brutality.
Dionysus was the son of Zeus and Semele. Semele was a mortal. It was said that Zeus came to Selmele one night invisible. She recognized her experience only as that of a divine presence. She knew she was a lover of a god, yet she did not know which god it was. It was Hera (Zeus’s wife) who eventually confronted Semele disguised so that she would not be identified. She convinced Semele to see who her lover really was. When Zeus came to her once again, Semele made him promise and swear on the River Styx that he would reveal himself. Because of his love for Semele, he could not deny her request, although he knew that what would happen to her. When he revealed himself to her, she instantly was struck dead due to the fact that she was mortal and could not stand to see him in all his glory. Zeus then took their unborn son Dionysus from her womb and sewed him into his thigh until he was ready to be born. When the time came, Dionysus was born from Zeus’s thigh perfectly formed. He was known as the twice born god associated with death and rebirth.
Dionysus wandered the world and was accompanied by his maenads who actively encouraged his worship and what became known as cult. The maenads were wild women often flush with wine. Their shoulders would be draped with fawn skins and they carried with them wands made of hazel tipped with pinecones. No temples were erected to Dionysus, instead they worshipped in open and free in the woods. It is here they would worship until they reached states of frenzied ecstasy.
When Dionysus is depicted he wears a crown of ivy and is usually covered with vine leaves and grape, an image similar to the Green Man.