Dionysos

Dionysiac myths and cults were popular throughout the Greek mainland and its colonies; Athens alone celebrated five annual festivals chiefly dedicated to Dionysos as wine god and patron god of the theatre.

On a more personal level, male and female followers of Dionysos engaged in ecstatic worship and could become initiated into the Dionysiac mysteries. Typical features of Dionysiac religion included wine, divine epiphanies, masks, animals, dancing women, and processions featuring men and boys dressed as satyrs.

Cadmos’ daughter Semele bore to Zeus, a splendid son... Laughing Dionysos, a mortal woman, giving birth to a god, but they are both divine now.

-Hesiod, Theogony, 946-949

Neck-Amphora with Dionysus

Neck-Amphora with Dionysos

Dionysos is depicted on this red-figure amphora (wine container) as a mature bearded figure wearing a chiton (cloak), himation (mantle), and wreath. He holds a forked stick in his left hand and in his extended right hand, a kantharos (cup).

As god of wine, Dionysos performed a number of functions. This image leaves his role up to the imagination of the viewer. The cup here perhaps symbolises a libation accompanying a sacrifice, a celebration of the new harvest, or the wine offered to Dionysos by his followers.