Dionysus - Greek Wine God

The Greeks brought wine near and far, to Italy and the Black Sea, during the Days of Wine in Ancient Greece. The god Dionysus looked over these events, and his cult wielded a lot of power. There were huge festivals in Athens called Dionysia, and a three day feast each year in the spring to celebrate the broaching of new wine. These festivals can track back to before 1000 BC.

Dionysus was, in some legends, the god who brought wine to mankind.

The cult surrounding Dionysus was one of surrender of personal identity. Participants often wore masks - wine was thought to bring out both the best and worst of a person. Dionysus was a god of many faces. His symbols were the bull and pine trees, and he was usually followed in legend by satyrs and maenads - women worshippers.

How was mankind given the rich gift of winemaking? We owe it all (according to legend, of course) to the Greek good Dionysus.

Dionysus gave this information to the peasant Icarus and his daughter Erigone, in return for their wonderful hospitality to him. Following Dionysus' wishes, the pair then go to teach other peasants this new technique. The neighbors at first enjoy the wine, but drinking too much, they think they've been poisoned. They club Icarus to death and bury him.

Mora, the dog, leads Erigone to where her father was buried. Heartbroken, Erigone hangs herself.

The gods made these three into stars - Icarus is the star Bootes, Erigone is Virgo, and the dog is Canis/Sirius. Bootes rises in the autumn sky, and is known as the "Grape Gatherer".

Wine Religions