Mythology – Symbols of Dionysos

by Erin on April 5, 2012

Yesterday, we explored a work of art that depicted Dionysos with Maenads. Today, let’s look specifically at some symbols of Dionysos.

In Greek mythology, Dionysos was the god of wine. He was also associated with the theater. He is represented in myth and art by several symbols, including the grape wine, ivy, animals such as the leopard and panther, and a type of staff called a thyrsos. Read on to learn more about these attributes of Dionysos (or Dionysus, if you prefer the more familiar version of his name).

Grape Vine - It only makes sense that the god of wine would have the grape vine as one of his attributes.

Ivy - When I think of this symbol of Dionysos, what typically comes to mind is images of ancient Greek vase paintings with depictions of stylized ivy trailing around the god and his ecstatic entourage.

Leopard - An animal associated with Dionysos and his retinue of maenads, or female followers.

Panther - Like the leopard, the panther also represents Dionysos in myth and art. I should note that both the animal and its skin appear in artistic depictions of the god.

Thyrsos - A thyrsos is a distinctive type of staff. It can be described as a stick bound with ivy and topped with a pine-cone.

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