Hello everyone,

I am having a problem understanding: who/what is Dionysis?
Hi Truth. Dionysis or Bacchus is a god in Greek mythology (Bacchus is the Roman name). I imagine you've already done a google search and found links like this one, so I think I will take the liberty to type out what my impression of Dionysus is. I did a bit of research on him a while back.

The origin of Dionysus is a complicated story, but he does end up being born out of Zeus himself, as related in this snippet:

"When [Zeus] reveals his divine brilliance, the lightning strikes Semele dead. Zeus snatches the unborn baby and hides him in his thigh. When the baby is delivered, Zeus entrusts him to the nymphs of the green, fertile valleys of Nysa. They lovingly raise the boy, who thereafter will always prefer the company of women. He is emotional and impulsive, trusting his feelings over reasoning. Dionysus grows into a strikingly handsome man, with curly hair and delicate features. He spends more and more time in the woods, for he loves the perfect beauty of Nature."*
He's the patron god of altered states, associated with inebriation from wine, but not just getting stupid drunk. There's something poetic and divine about the drunkenness that Dionysus advocates. Sometimes "Dionysian" is used as an adjective to describe a person. In popular culture, Jim Morrison of the Doors is definitely Dionysian. Others that come to mind are Jimi Hendrix and Hunter S. Thompson. These are all people who have a penchant for creativity as well as destruction, and have a subtle, wicked, prankster's sense of humor. Very, very free is the spirit of Dionysis--unhindered by social convention.

Dionysis himself is painted as a prankster in several myths. I don't remember the details, but I believe he does steal a herd of cows from Apollo. Apollo is very macho and serious and gets really upset about this. Apollo and Dionysus could be seen as two archetypes that oppose each other. I'll let you do your own research into that. Hopefully the info I've presented here is a bit of a starting point.

*I ain't posting the link to where I got this excerpt from, 'cuz I think some people might find a piece of artwork on it offensive or at the very least shocking. Now if this intrigues you, send me a PM and I will see what I can do. ;) :p
Close, but the divine prankster who stole Apollo's cows was Hermes, not Dionysus.

In the study of drama, there is a tendency to talk about the Dionysian-Apollonian conflict or polar duality -- Apollo represents logic, and Dionysus represents emotion.

Dionysus also illustrates the concept that genius and madness are closely connected.

Dionysus' female followers, the Maenads, were sometimes known for frenzied violence, including killing with their bare hands.

There's a good entry on Dionysus and the various myths attributed to him over at wikipedia.
Thanks so much. I have a midterm tonight in my pagan culture class and I still wasn't quite certain of what the teacher was explaining about Dionysus.