DIONYSOS was the Olympian god of wine and festivity.
This page lists his cult titles and poetic epithets.
CULT TITLES & EPITHETS
The first of Dionysos' cult titles refer to his various divine functions, as god of the Bacchic orgy, nocturnal revels, fertility, wine, feasts, freedom and salvation, tragedy plays, the underworld:--
Of Bacchic Frenzy
Of Bacchic Frenzy
Of Ritual Bacchic-Cry
Of Ritual Iacchic-Cry
Of Ritual Euoi-Cry
Of the Night
Of the Torches
Of the Feast
Giver of Increase
Phallic, Of the Phallus
Of the Grape
Of the Unripe Grape
Of the Wine-Press
Of the Wine-Press
God of Wine
The Good Spirit
First of the Vintage
Bringer of Mixed Wine
Of the Ivy
Of the Flowers
Of the Chickpea
Of the Black Goat-Skin, Dark Aegis
Of Release, Releasing
Of Liberation, Freedom
(Uplifted on) Wings
Saviour, Recovery (from Madness)
Paternal, Ancestral (God)
(Protector) of the Street, the Ways
Of the Mysteries
Of the Earth, Chthonic
Singer, Minstrel, Of the Tragedy Play
Another set of cult titles come from locales of shrines and their founders:--
Of Eleutherae (Attica)
Of Leucyanias R. (Elis)
Of Calydon (Aetolia)
Of Crete (Aegean)
Of Cadmus (hero Thebes)
Of the Knoll
Of the Marsh
The meanings of some of his titles remain obscure:--
Some general terms pertaining to the god's cult include:--
Temple of Dionysus
Temple of Dionysus Lenaeus
Festival of Dionysus
Festival of the Wine-Press
Festival of the Flowers
Festival of Deception
Festival of the Shade
Festival of Rocky Land
Festival of Wild Revels
Festival of Tumult
Months named after the god include:--
Month of Dionysus Anthesterius
POETIC TITLES & EPITHETS
This list has yet to be compiled.
I. Common Homeric titles of Dionysos.
II. Common Homeric epithets of Dionysos.
Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 3. 62. 5 (trans. Oldfather) (Greek historian C1st B.C.) :
"Dionysos was named twice-born (dimetor) by the ancients, counting it as a single and first birth when the plant is set in the ground and begins to grow, and as a second birth when it becomes laden with fruit and ripens its grape-clusters--the god thus being considered as having been born once from the earth and again from the vine."
Aelian, Historical Miscellany 3. 41 (trans. Wilson) (Greek rhetorician C2nd to 3rd A.D.) :
"Note that the ancients used the word phlyein (to luxuriate) of an abundant yield of fruit. So they called Dionysos Phleon (the Luxuriant), Protrygaios (the First at the Vintage), Staphylites (the God of the Grape), Omphakites (the god of the unripe grape), and various other epithets."
Suidas s.v. Athenaion (trans. Suda On Line) (Byzantine Greek lexicon C10th A.D.) :
"Apollonion is short for the temple of Apollon . . . and Dionysion [for Dionysos]."
Suidas s.v. Dionysos :
"Dionysos : The son of Semele. [So named] from accomplishing (dianuein) for each of those who live the wild life; or from providing (dianoein) everything for those who live the wild life."
[N.B. This etymological explanation is somewhat unusual.]
Suidas s.v. Zagreus :
"Zagreus : Dionysos in poets. For Zeus, it seems, had intercourse with Persephone, and she gave birth to Dionysos Khthonios (of the earth, underworld)."
Suidas s.v. Saboi (quoting Demosthenes 18. 260) :
"Saboi: Demosthenes [in the speech] On Behalf of Ktesiphon [mentions them]. Some say that Saboi is the term for those who are dedicated to Sabazios, that is to Dionysos, just as those [dedicated] to Bakkhos [are] Bakkhoi. They say that Sabazios and Dionysos are the same. Thus some also say that the Greeks call the Bakkhoi Saboi. But Mnaseas of Patrai [C3rd B.C.] says that Sabazios is the son of Dionysos."
Suidas s.v. Bromios :
"Bromios : Dionysos, the birth-maker of fruits. From bora (food) comes borimos, and by metathesis bromios." [N.B.This etymological explanation is unusual, bromios means noisy or boisterous.]
Suidas s.v. Iobakkhos :
"Iobakkhos : A proper name."
Suidas s.v. Iakkhos :
"Iakkhos : Dionysos; or a hymn to Dionysos."
Suidas s.v. Euaster (quoting Leonidas of Tarentum, Greek Anthology 6. 154) :
"Euastêr (who cries Euoi!) : Epithet of Dionysos. From the ecstatic cry Euoi! In the Epigrams: ‘These things of the open country Arkadian Biton, when an old man, dedicated to Pan and Lyaios who cries Eoi!, that is to Lyaios and the Nymphai.’"
Suidas s.v. Mainoles :
"Mainolês (frenzied) : Mad. Raging."
Suidas s.v. Lenaios :
"Lênaios : A name of Dionysos."
Suidas s.v. Linaios :
"Linaios : [A title of] Dionysos."
Suidas s.v. Dimetor :
"Dimêtôr (twice-born) : Dionysos."
Suidas s.v. Eiraphiotes :
"Eiraphiôtês : Dionysos, from the fact that he was sewn up (erraphthai) in the thigh of Zeus." [N.B. This is one of seven etymologies proffered by the ancients; others include connection with eriphos, goat-kid.]
Suidas s.v. Kistophoros :
"Kistophoros (basket-bearer, ivy-bearer) : It seems that baskets were sacred to Dionysos and the Two Goddesses [Demeter and Persephone]." [N.B. Derived from Harpocration s.v. kittophoros, the ivy-bearer.]
Suidas s.v. Protrygaios :
"Protrygaios (vintage-presider) : An epithet of Dionysos."
Suidas s.v. Oinops (quoting Greek Anthology 6. 44. 5 and 7. 20. 2) :
"Oinops (wine-dark) : ‘To wine-dark [so-and-so],’ to black [so-and-so]. In the Epigrams: ‘. . . from which we poured libations, as much [as is] right, to wine-dark Bakkhos and the Satyroi.’ But ruddy (oinôpos) [means] wine-coloured, bright or black. ‘Feeding on the ruddy grape-cluster of Bakkhos.’"
Suidas s.v. Androgynos :
"Androgynos (androgynous) : [A word applied to] Dionysos, as one doing both active, male things and passive, female ones [specifically sexual intercourse]."
Suidas s.v. Melanaigis Dionysos :
"Melanaigis Dionysos : Dionysos of the Black Aigis (Goat-skin)."
Suidas s.v. Taurophagon (quoting Sophocles, Fragment 668 and Aristophanes, Frogs 355) :
"Taurophagon (bull-eating) : Dionysos. Sophokles in Tyros [calls him so]. [Used] instead of bouphagos (cow-eater) because an ox was given to Dionysos by the winners of the dithyrambic [competition]. Alternatively the eater of raw flesh. From which Aristophanes has even applied the name, metaphorically, to Kratinos: ‘Who [...] has neither seen or danced the orgia of the noble Mousai, nor been initiated in the Bakkhic rites of the tongue of bull-eating Kratinos.’ . . .
What the passage from the Tyros of Sophokles says [is]: ‘of Dionysus the bull-eater.’ And because he [Kratinos] loved wine; and because of this, they give this epithet of Dionysos to him. Some apply the word, even more curiously, to the mother of Kratinos, who had been initiated in the Bakkhic rites, which are those of Dionysos Moskhophagos (the calf-eater).
Alternatively rash (tolmera), from the Bakkhoi."
Suidas s.v. Kolotes :
"Kôlôtês (Gecko) : Spotted lizard . . . Also Kolotes, [an epithet of] Dionysos."
Suidas s.v. Erebinthinos Dionysos (from Zenobius 3. 83) :
"Erebinthinos Dionysos (chickpea Dionysos) : [A proverb] applied to worthless people/things."
ENCYCLOPEDIA DIONYSUS TITLES
ACRATO′PHORUS (Akratophoros), a surname of Dionysus, by which he was designated as the giver of unmixed wine, and worshipped at Phigaleia in Arcadia. (Paus. viii. 39. § 4.)
ACROEITES (Akrôreitês), a surname of Dionysus, under which he was worshipped at Sicyon, and which is synonymous with Eriphius, under which name he was worshipped at Metapontum in southern Italy. (Steph. Byz. s. v. Akrôreia.)
ADO′NEUS (Adôneus). 1. A surname of Bacchus, signifies the Ruler. (Auson. Epigr. xxix. 6.) 2. Adoneus is sometimes used by Latin poets for Adonis. (Plaut. Menaech. i. 2. 35; Catull. xxix. 9.)
AEGO′BOLUS (Aigobolos), the goat-killer, a surname of Dionysus, at Potniae in Boeotia. (Paus. ix. 8. § 1.)
AESYMNE′TES (Aisumnêtês), a surname of Dionysus, which signifies the Lord, or Ruler, and under which he was worshipped at Aroë in Achaia. The story about the introduction of his worship there is as follows: There was at Troy an ancient image of Dionysus, the work of Hephaestus, which Zeus had once given as a present to Dardanus. It was kept in a chest, and Cassandra, or, according to others, Aeneas, left this chest behind when she quitted the city, because she knew that it would do injury to him who possessed it. When the Greeks divided the spoils of Troy among themselves, this chest fell to the share of the Thessallian Eurypylus, who on opening it suddenly fell into a state of madness. The oracle of Delphi, when consulted about his recovery, answered, "Where thou shalt see men performing a strange sacrifice, there shalt thou dedicate the chest, and there shalt thou settle." When Eurypylus came to Aroë in Achaia, it was just the season at which its inhabitants offered every year to Artemis Triclaria a human sacrifice, consisting of the fairest youth and the fairest maiden of the place. This sacrifice was offered as an atonement for a crime which had once been committed in the temple of the goddess. But an oracle had declared to them, that they should be released from the necessity of making this sacrifice, if a foreign divinity should be brought to them by a foreign king. This oracle was now fulfilled. Eurypylus on seeing the victims led to the altar was cured of his madness and perceived that this was the place pointed out to him by the oracle; and the Aroëans also, on seeing the god in the chest, remembered the old prophecy, stopped the sacrifice, and instituted a festival of Dionysus Aesymnetes, for this was the name of the god in the chest. Nine men and nine women were appointed to attend to his worship. During one night of this festival a priest carried the chest outside the town, and all the children of the place, adorned, as formerly the victims used to be, with garlands of corn-ears, went down to the banks of the river Meilichius, which had before been called Ameilichius, hung up their garlands, purified themselves, and then put on other garlands of ivy, after which they returned to the sanctuary of Dionysus Aesymnetes. (Paus. vii. 19 and 20.) This tradition, though otherwise very obscure, evidently points to a time when human sacrifices were abolished at Aroë by the introduction of a new worship. At Patrae in Achaia there was likewise a temple dedicated to Dionysus Aesymnetes. (Paus. vii. 21. § 12.)
AGRI′ONIUS (Agriônios), a surname of Dionysus, under which he was worshipped at Orchomenus in Boeotia, and from which his festival Agrionia in that place derived its name. (Dict. of Ant. p. 30; Müller, Orchom. p. 166, &c.)
AMPHI′ETES or AMPHIE′TERUS (Amphietês), a surname of Dionysus. (Orph. Hymn. 52. 1, 51. 10.) It is believed that at Athens, where the Dionysiac festivals were held annually, the name signified yearly, while at Thebes, where they were celebrated every third year, it was interpretated to be synonymous with trietês.
ANTHEUS (Antheus), the blooming, a surname of Dionysus. (Paus. vii. 21. § 2.) Anthius, a surname which Dionysus bore at Athens, is probably only a different form for Antheus. (Paus. i. 31. § 2.)
BA′SSAREUS (Bassareus), a surname of Dionysus (Hor. Carm. i. 18. 11; Macrob. Sat. i. 18), which, according to the explanations of the Greeks, is derived from bassara or bassaris, the long robe which the god himself and the Maenads used to wear in Thrace, and whence the Maenads themselves are often called bassarae or bassarides. The name of this garment again seems to be connected with, or rather the same as, bassaris, a fox (Hesych. s. v. bassarai), probably because it was originally made of fox-skins. Others derive the name Bassareus from a Hebrew word, according to which its meaning would be the same as the Greek protrugês, that is, the precursor of the vintage. On some of the vases discovered in southern Italy Dionysus is represented in a long garment which is commonly considered to be the Thracian bassara.
BRISAEUS (Brisaios), a surname of Dionysus, derived from mount Brisa in Lesbos (Steph. Byz. s. v. Brisa), or from a nymph Brisa, who was said to have brought up the god. (Schol. ad Pers. Sat. i. 76.)
BRO′MIUS (Bromios), a surname of Dionysus, which some explain by saying, that he was born during a storm of thunder and lightning (Diod. iv. 5; Dion Chrys. Or. 27); others derive it from the nymph Brome, or from the noise of the Bacchantic processions, whence the verb bromeazesthai, to rage like a Bacchant (Ov. Met. iv. 11; Orph. Lith. xviii. 77.) There is also a my thical personage of this name. (Apollod. ii. 1. § 5.)
CALYDO′NIUS (Kaludônios), a surname of Dionysus, whose image was carried from Calydon to Patrae (Paus. vii. 21. § 1), and of Meleager, the hero in the Calydonian hunt. (Ov. Met. viii. 231.)
CRE′SIUS (Krêsios), a surname of Dionysus at Argos, where he had a temple in which Ariadne was said to be buried. (Paus. ii. 23. § 7.)
DENDRI′TES (Dendritês), the god of the tree, a surname of Dionysus, which has the same import as Dasyllius, the giver of foliage. (Plut. Sympos. 5; Paus. i. 43. § 5.)
ELEUTHEREUS (Eleuthereus), a surname of Dionysus, which he derived either from Eleuther, or the Boeotian town of Eleutherae; but it may also be regarded as equivalent to the Latin Liber, and thus describes Dionysus as the deliverer of man from care and sorrow. (Paus. i. 20. § 2, 38. § 8; Plut. Quaest. Rom. 101.) The form Eleutherius is certainly used in the sense of the deliverer, and occurs also as the surname of Zeus. (Plut. Sympos. vii. in fin.; Pind. Ol. xii. 1; Strab. ix. p. 412; Tacit. Ann. xv. 64.)
ENORCHES (Enorchês), a son of Thyestes by his sister Daeta, was born out of an egg, and built a temple to Dionysus, who was hence called Dionysus Enorches, though Enorches may also describe the god as the dancer. (Tzetz. ad Lycoph. 212 ; Hesych. s. v.)
ENYA′LIUS (Enualios), the warlike, frequently occurs in the Iliad (never in the Odyssey) either as an epithet of Ares . . . Dionysus, too, is said to have been surnamed Enyalius. (Macrob. Sat. i. 19.)
EUBU′LEUS (Eubouleus). Eubuleus occurs also as a surname of several divinities, and describes them as gods of good counsel, such as Hades and Dionysus. (Schol. ad Nicand. Alex. 14; Orph. Hymn. 71. 3; Macrob. Sat. i. 18; Plut. Sympos. vii. 9.)
HYES (Huês), the moist or fertilising god, occurs like Hyetius, as a surname of Zeus, as the sender of rain. (Hesych. s. v. huês.) . . . Hyes was also a surname of Dionysus, or rather of the Phrygian Sabazius, who was identified sometimes with Dionysus, and sometimes with Zeus. (Hesych. l.c.; Strab. p. 471.)
INTONSUS, i.e. unshorn, a surname of Apollo and Bacchus, alluding to the eternal youth of these gods, as the Greek youths allowed their hair to grow until they attained the age of manhood, though in the case of Apollo it may also allude to his being the god of the sun, whence the long floating hair would indicate the rays of the sun. (Hom. Il. xx. 39, Hymn. in Apoll. 134; Horat. Epod. xv. 9; Tibull. i. 4. 34; Ov. Met. iii. 421, Amor. i. 14. 31; Martial, iv. 45.)
ISODAETES (Isodaitês), from daiô, i.e. the god who distributes his gifts equally to all, occurs as a surname of Dionysus Zagreus. (Plut. de Ei. ap. Delph. 9.)
LAMPTER (Lamptêr), i.e. the shining or torch-bearer, a surname of Dionysus, under which he was worshipped at Pellene in Achaia, where a festival called lamptêria was celebrated in his honour. (Paus. vii. 27. § 2.)
LAPHY′STIUS (Laphustios). A surname of Dionysus, from the Boeotian mountain Laphystius, whence the female Bacchantes were called, in the Macedonian dialect, Laphystiae. (Tzetz. ad Lycoph. 1236; Miiller, Orchom. p. 168, 2d edit.)
LARISSAEUS (Larissaios, surnames of Zeus and Apollo, derived from the arx Larissa at Argos (Paus. ii. 24. § 4; Strab. ix. p. 440, xiv. 649; Steph. Byz. s. v. Larissa).
LENAEUS (Lhnaios), a surname of Dionysus, derived from lênos, the wine-press or the vintage. (Hesych. s. v.; Virg. Georg. ii. 4. 529; Dict. of Ant. s. v. Lenaea.)
LIMNE′GENES, LIMNAEA, LIMNE′TES (Limnaia os, Limnêtês is, Limnêgenês), i.e. inhabiting or born in a lake or marsh, is a surname of several divinities who were believed either to have sprung from a lake, or had their temples near a lake. Instances are, Dionysus at Athens (Eustath. ad Hom. p. 871; Callim. Fragm. 280, Bentl.; Thuc. ii. 15; Aristoph. Ran. 216; Athen. x. p. 437, xi. p. 465), and Artemis.
LYAEUS (Luaios), the god who frees men from care and anxiety, a surname of Bacchus. (Eustath. ad Hom. p. 108; Virg. Georg. ii. 229.)
LY′SIUS (Lusios), i.e. the Deliverer, a surname of Dionysus, under which he was worshipped at Corinth, where there was a carved image of the god, the whole figure of which was gilt, while the face was painted red. (Paus. ii. 2. § 5.) He was also worshipped at Sicyon, where the Theban Phanes was said to have introduced the god (ii. 7. § 6), and at Thebes. In the last-mentioned place he had a sanctuary near one of the gates, and there was a story that the god had received the surname from the fact of his once having delivered Theban prisoners from the hands of the Thracians in the neighbourhood of Haliartus (ix. 16. § 4; Orph. Hymn. 49, 2, &c.)
MEILI′CHIUS (Meilichios), i. e. the god that can be propitiated, or the gracious, is used as a surname of several divinities. 1. Of Zeus, as the protector of those who honoured him with propitiatory sacrifice . . . 2. Of Dionysus in the island of Naxos. (Athen. iii. p. 78.)
MELANAEGIS (Melanaigis), i.e. armed or clad with a black aegis, occurred as a surname of Dionysus at Eleutherae (Suid. s. v. Eleutheros ; Paus. i. 38. § 8), and at Athens (Suid. s. v. Apatouria; Conon, Narrat. 39; Paus. ii. 35. § 1), and of the Erinnys. (Aeschy. Sept. 700.)
MELPO′MENUS (Melpomenos), or the singer, was a surname of Dionysus at Athens, and in the Attic demos of Acharne. (Paus. i. 2. § 4, 31. § 3.)
MESATEUS (Mesteus), a surname of Dionysus, derived from the town of Mesatis, where, according to a tradition at Patrae, he had been educated. (Paus. vii. 18. § 3, 21. § 2.)
METHYMNAEUS (Mêthumnaios), a surname of Dionysus, derived, according to some, from Methymna, rich in vines. (Hesych. s. v. ; Virg. Georg. ii. 20.) Others derived it from methe (sweet or wine), as Plutarch (Sympos. iii. 2) and Athenaeus (viii. p. 363)
NYSAEUS, NY′SIUS, NYSEUS, or NYSI′GENA (Nusêïos), a surname of Dionysus, derived from Nysa, a mountain or city, either in Thrace, Arabia, or India, where he was said to have been brought up by nymphs. According to some, it was derived from Nisus, who is said to have been his father, or at least to have educated him. (Hom. Il. vi. 133, Hymn. xxv. 5; Apollon. Rhod. ii. 905, iv. 431; Diod. i. 15, iii. 68; Cic. de Nat. Deor. iii. 23; Virg. Aen. vi. 806; Ov. Met. iv. 13.)
OMA′DIUS (Ômadios), that is, the flesh-eater, a surname of Dionysus, to whom human sacrifices were offered in Chios and Tenedos. (Orph. Hymn. 51. 7; Porphyr. de Abstin. ii. 55.)
PHLEON (Phleôn), i. e. the giver of plenty, is a surname of Dionysus, describing the god as promoting the fertility of plants and trees. (Aelian, V.H. iii. 41.) A similar surname of the god is Phlyus (from phluen; Schol. ad Apollon. Rhod. i. 115.)
PSILAS (Psilas), i.e. "the giver of wings," or "the unbearded," a surname of Dionysus, under which he was worshipped at Amyclae. (Paus. iii. 19. § 6; Lobeck ad Phrynich. p. 435.)
SOTER (Sôtêr), i. e. "the Saviour" (Lat. Servator or Sospes), occurs as the surname of several divinities :-- 1. of Zeus . . . 2. Of Helios (Paus. viii. 31. § 4), and 3. of Bacchus. (Lycoph. 206.)
TAUROCE′PHALUS (Taurokephalos, also Taurokranos, Taurometôpos, &c.), a surname of Dionysus in the Orphic mysteries. (Orph. Hymn. 51. 2.) It also occurs as a surname of rivers and the ocean, who were symbolically represented as bulls, to indicate their fertilising effect upon countries. (Eurip. Iphig. Aul. 275, Orest. 1378 ; Aelian, V. H. ii. 33; Horat. Carm. iv. 14, 25.)
TAURUS (Tauros), a bull, occurs as a surname of Dionysus. (Eurip. Bacch. 918 ; Athen. xi. p. 476; Plut. Quaest. Graec. 36 ; Lycoph. Cass. 209.)
THYO′NEUS (Thuôneus). A surname of Dionysus which has the same meaning as Thyone, both being formed from thuein, "to be inspired." (Ov. Met. iv. 13; Horat. Carm. i. 17. 23; Oppian, Cyneg. 27 ; Hesych. s. v. Thuônidês.)
ZAGREUS (Zagreus), a surname of the mystic Dionysus (Dionusos chthonios), whom Zeus, in the form of a dragon, is said to have begotten by Persephone, previously to her being carried off by Pluto (Callim. Fragm. 171, ed. Bentl.; Etym. Magn. s. v. ; Orph. Hymn. 29 ; Ov. Met. vi. 114 ; Nonnus, Dionys. vi. 264). He was torn to pieces by the Titans, though he defended himself bravely, and assumed various forms; and Athena carried his heart to Zeus. (Tzetz. ad Lycoph. 355 ; Lobeck, Aglaopham. p. 547, &c.)
Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.
- Pausanias, Description of Greece - Greek Travelogue C2nd A.D.
- Aelian, Historical Miscellany - Greek Rhetoric C2nd - 3rd A.D.
- Suidas, The Suda - Byzantine Greek Lexicon C10th A.D.
See Cult of Dionysos pages.