Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Greece

The Birth of Dionysus

Semele was a daughter of Cadmus, the first king of Thebes, famous for her extraordinary beauty and grace. When Zeus, the King of the gods, saw the princess, he fell in love with her .

Soon Semele became pregnant of Zeus, but Zeus' jealous wife Hera begrudged Semele's pregnancy and tried to destroy her... so one day she planted seeds of doubt in Semele's mind and made her very suspicious about Zeus' divine nature.

At that time, Zeus was deeply in love with Semele. To please her, he swore upon the sacred river of the gods Styx to make any wish of Semele come true. Semele asked from Zeus to reveal all his dignity among his lightnings and his thunderbolts.

Zeus first tried to hold back...but he had already made a sacred oath and was forced to obey Semele's order. So he revealed himself! Immediately, lightnings appeared and everything Zeus' thunderbolt touched was shaking and moving, wrapped in fire. Undoubtedly, Zeus was the Supreme God of Mount Olympus.

Fires were also wrapped around the beautiful Semele, burning her body to death, because any mortal who would sight a deity in all his glory was cursed to die.

By that time, Dionysus was still in Semele's womb. However, Zeus managed to rescue the infant by binding him in his thigh. Then he handed Dionysus to his messenger Hermes, who brought the baby to Semele's sister Ino and her husband Athamantas. This was the couple Zeus had chosen to raise his newborn child.

Myths about Dionysus