Demeter and Dionysus Notes - Westerville City School District

The 2 Great Gods of
the Earth
Demeter & Dionysus
Why were they “Gods of
the Earth”?
 Lived on Earth among their people instead of
on Mount Olympus
 Controlled the crops they grew – grain/grapes.
 Festivals were held for them in spring and at
harvest time
 Knew happiness in summer when things grew
and grief in winter because of dead crops – this
makes them more “human-like”
 Were considered best friends of people
because of giving them “life” in the form of food
1. had 1 daughter:
2. Persephone was
out gathering
Narcissus flowers in
the meadow
3. She was kidnapped
by Hades and taken
to the underworld
4. Mom could hear her crying but could not
find her.
5. For 9 days Demeter wandered looking
for her daughter and would not eat
Ambrosia or drink Nectar.
6. Finally, she went to the Sun, and he told
her that Persephone was in the
underworld with Hades.
7. Depressed, Demeter went to the Earth
disguised as a mortal woman.
8. Demeter came to a town where she sat
by a well. 4 sisters came to fill their
jugs and asked who she was.
9. Demeter said she had escaped from
pirates and had nowhere to go, so they
invited her to their home.
10. The family liked her, so Demeter was
asked to stay and be a nursemaid to
the baby son, Demophoon.
11. At night she would lay him in the fire to
give him immortal youth.
12. The baby’s mother got mad when she
saw this. She yelled at Demeter.
13. Demeter got mad at being yelled at,
and revealed herself as a Goddess.
14. She demanded that the family build a
temple in her honor.
15. For the next year, nothing grew on
Earth. Famine spread and people were
dying. Demeter announced that no
crops will grow until she gets
Persephone back.
16. Zeus had to do something.
He sent Hermes to Hades to
talk to him.
17. They worked out a deal:
Hades would give Persephone
back in the spring, but she had
to spend at least 4 (6) months
with him – this would be
18. So, now the growing season
happens in the spring when
Persephone is allowed to be
with her mother and Demeter
is happy.
19. Winter is when Demeter is
depressed over the loss of
 Persephone is always
shown with a Pomegranate
because Hades tricked her
into eating (6) seeds to
insure she will return to him
each spring and spend (6)
months with Hades as his
 It was a rule of The Fates
that anyone who ate or
drank in the underworld was
doomed to spend eternity
 Her Roman name is
Eleusinian Mysteries
 Secret initiation ceremonies held
annually for the Cult of Demeter and
Persephone. (usually in spring)
 Rites, ceremonies and beliefs were kept
 Thought to consist of purifications, fasts,
rituals and performances.
 Believed to insure happiness in the future
 Dionysus is the only god whose parents
are not both divine. Dad is Zeus, and
Mom is Semele, a Theban princess.
(Thebes was one of the city states in
 Zeus was so in love with her that he
swore by the River Styx that he would do
anything she asked.
 Hera put a wish into Semele’s heart
causing her to ask to see Zeus in all his
divine glory – knowing what this would do
to her.
 Because he had sworn by the River Styx,
Zeus had to show her – and it killed her.
 He took her unborn child from her as she
was dying and hid the baby inside his
own body until he was ready to be born –
then gave the child to nymphs to raise.
 As a young adult, Dionysus wandered
and taught about grapes and wine.
Pirate Story
 One day, pirates saw Dionysus dressed as a
prince in his flowing purple robe and took him
to hold for ransom.
 However, the ropes on the ship would not hold
 Sailors hoisted the sails to leave, but the ship
would not move.
 Wine started flowing on the deck and grape
vines started to grow and wind around the
 Dionysus turned himself into a fierce lion
and began roaring at them.
 The sailors jumped into the sea to
escape, and they turned into dolphins.
 Dionysus had mercy on the ship’s
Immortality of Mom
 Dionysus felt that his mother had been
treated unfairly, so he searched the
underworld to find her.
 He took her to Mt. Olympus to have her
made immortal.
 She became a goddess, but isn’t really
mentioned in other stories.
2 Sides of Dionysus
 Kindness/happiness vs. Anger/madness
 These represent the different effects of
 Dionysus embodies them both, and when
people drank wine, they were thought to
literally take the qualities of Dionysus inside
 Dionysus loved to party and had a group of
frenzied women – MAENADS - who
followed him around and partied with him
The Story of Pentheus
 Pentheus was the King of Thebes and
the son of Semele’s sister.
 He didn’t like all the noise made by
Dionysus and his Maenads when they
were partying.
 He had his men capture the Maenads,
but they could not capture/hold Dionysus.
 Dionysus helped his Maenads escape
and they all fled, but Pentheus chased
them – also with his mother and sisters.
 Dionysus finally revealed himself to all of
them and turned the mortal women mad
 He then led the mad women to attack
Pentheus and tear him limb from limb
until he was dead.
 It is said that The Maenads tear Dionysus
apart in the fall at the end of the growing
Festival of Dionysus
 Formal Theatre
began in Greece as
a way of praising and
entertaining the god
 Built – late 5th Cent
 Held 17,000 people
The End !
Created by Ms. Birtcher
February 2011
English 9
Westerville North High School
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