Web Theoi
SEMELE THYONE
 
Greek Name Transliteration Latin Spelling Translation
Θυωνη Thyônê Thyone Inspire-Frenzy(thyiô)
Σεμελη Semelê Semele -

THYONE was the goddess of the inspired frenzy which seized the female devotees of Dionysos in the course of the Bacchic orgy. She was the apotheosed mother of the god himself.

Thyone was born Semele, a Theban princess loved by the god Zeus. When his wife Hera learned of their illicit affair, she tricked the girl into having Zeus swear to appear before her in his full glory. Bound by an oath he did so, and Semele was consumed by the fire of his lightning bolts. Her son Dionysos was recovered from her womb, and upon reaching adulthood he descended to the underworld to fetch her to join the company of the gods of Olympos.

PARENTS
KADMOS & HARMONIA (Hesiod Theogony 940, Pindar Dithyrambs, Pindar Pythian 3, Apollodorus 3.25, Pausanias 9.5.2, Diodorus Siculus 4.2.1, Hyginus Fabulae 179, Nonnus Dionysiaca, et al)
OFFSPRING
DIONYSOS (by Zeus) (Hesiod Theogony 940, Homeric Hymns 1 & 7 & 26, Pindar Pythian 3, Bacchylides Frag 19, Apollodorus 3.26, Pausanias 3.24.4, Diodorus Siculus 4.2.1, Hyginus Fabulae 179, Nonnus Dionysiaca, et al)

ENCYCLOPEDIA

THYO′NE (Thuônê), the name of Semele, under which Dionysus fetched her from Hades, and introduced her among the immortals. (Hom. Hymn. v. 21; Apollod. iii. 5. § 3; Cic. de Nat. Deor. iii. 23; Pind. Pyth. iii. 99; Diod. Sic. iv. 25; Apollon. Rhod. i. 636.)

SE′MELE (Semelê), a daughter of Cadmus and Harmonia, at Thebes, and accordingly a sister of Ino, Agave, Autonoë, and Polydorus. She was beloved by Zeus (Hom. Il. xiv. 323, Hymn. in Bacch. 6, 57 ; Schol. ad Pind. Ol. ii. 40), and Hera, stimulated by jealousy, appeared to her in the form of her aged nurse Beroë, and induced her to pray Zeus to visit her in the same splendour and majesty with which he appeared to Hera. Zeus, who had promised that he would grant her every request, did as she desired. He appeared to her as the god of thunder, and Semele was consumed by the fire of lightning; but Zeus saved her child Dionysus, with whom she was pregnant (Apollod, iii. 4. § 3; Ov. Met. iii. 260, &c.; Hygin. Fab. 179). Pausanias (ix. 2. § 3) relates that Actaeon was in love with her, and that Artemis caused him to be torn to pieces by his dogs, to prevent his marrying her. The inhabitants of Brasiae, in Laconia, related that Semele, after having given birth to Dionysus, was thrown by her father Cadmus in a boat upon the sea, and that her body was driven to the coast of Brasiae, where it was buried ; whereas Dionysus, whose life was saved, was brought up at Brasiae (Paus. iii. 24. § 3). After her death, the common account continues, she was led by her son out of the lower world, and carried up to Olympus as Thyone (Pind. Ol. ii. 44, Pyth. xi 1; Paus. ii. 31. § 2, 37. § 5; A pollod. iii. 5. § 3). A statue of her and her tomb were shown at Thebes. (Paus. ix. 12. § 3, 16. § 4.)

Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.


BIRTH OF SEMELE

Pindar, Dithyrambs Heracles the Bold (trans. Sandys) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.) :
"Kadmos (Cadmus) by high design won sage Harmonia, as his wedded wife, who obeyed the voice of Zeus, and became the mother of Semele famed among men."

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3. 25 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Kadmos (Cadmus) had as daughters [by Harmonia] Autonoe, Ino, Semele, and Agaue (Agave), and one son Polydoros."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 5. 2 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"Kadmos (Cadmus) made a brilliant marriage, if, as the Greek legend says, he indeed took to wife [Harmonia] a daughter of Aphrodite and Ares. His daughters too have made him a name; Semele was famed for having a child by Zeus"

Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4. 2. 1 (trans. Oldfather) (Greek historian C1st B.C.) :
"Marrying Harmonia, daughter of Aphrodite, he [Kadmos] begat by her Semele."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 179 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Cadmus, son of Agenor and Argiope, by Harmonia, daughter of Mars [Ares] and Venus [Aphrodite], begat four daughters--Semele, Ino, Agave, Autonoe--and a son, Polydorus."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 5. 88 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"Soon Harmonia yoked by the cestus-girdle that guides wedded desire, carried in her womb the seed of many children whom she brought forth soon one by one: turn by turn she was delivered of her teeming burden by the birth of daughters, after four times nine circuits had been fulfilled . . . Then Semele fourth of the daughters grew up, the image of the Kharites (Graces) in her lovestriking looks, preserved for Zeus; although youngest of the sisters, she alone was given by nature the prerogative of unconquerable beauty."


THE LIFE & DEATH OF SEMELE

Hesiod, Theogony 940 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or 7th B.C.) :
"And Semele, daughter of Kadmos (Cadmus) was joined with him in love [with Zeus] and bare him a splendid son, joyous Dionysos,--a mortal woman an immortal son. And now they both are gods."

Homeric Hymn 1 to Dionysus (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C7th to 4th B.C.) :
"By the deep-eddying river Alpheios (Alpheus) that pregant Semele bare you [Dionysos] to Zeus the thunder-lover. And others yet, lord, say you were born in Thebes: but all of these lie."

Homeric Hymn 7 to Dionysus :
"Dionysos, the son of glorious Semele . . . Child of fair-faced Semele."

Homeric Hymn 26 to Dionysus :
"[Dionysos] splendid son of Zeus and glorious Semele."

Pindar, Pythian Ode 3 str5 (trans. Conway) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.) :
"To one [of the daughters of Kadmos and Harmonia], Thyone the white-armed maiden, Zeus the almighty father came down to her to share her lovely bed."

Bacchylides, Fragment 19 (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric IV) (C5th B.C.) :
"Kadmos (Cadmus), who in seven-gated thebes fathered Semele; and she gave birth to Dionysos."

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3. 26-27 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Zeus fell in love with Semele and slept with her, promising her anything she wanted, and keeping it all from Hera. But Semele was deceived by Hera into asking her to come to her as he came to Hera during their courtship. So Zeus, unable to refuse her, arrived in her bridal chamber in a chariot with lightning flashes and thunder, and sent a thunderbolt at her. Semele died of fright, and Zeus grabbed from the fire her sixth-month aborted baby, which he sewed into his thigh. After Semele's death the remaining daughters of Kadmos (Cadmus) circulated the story that she had slept with a mortal, thereafter accusing Zeus, and because of this had been killed by a thunderbolt."

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3. 31 :
"[Aktaion, Actaeon] was later eaten up on Kithairon (Cithaeron) by this own dogs. Acccording to Acousilaos [Acusilaus, Greek mythographer C6th B.C.], he met his end in this manner because he enraged Zeus by courting Semele."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 3. 24. 4 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"The inhabitants [of Brasiai in Lakedaimon] have a story, found nowhere else in Greece, that Semele, after giving birth to her son by Zeus, was discovered by Kadmos (Cadmus) and put with Dionysos into a chest, which was washed up by the waves in their country. Semele, who was no longer alive when found, received a splendid funeral, but they brought up Dionysos. For this reason the name of their city, hitherto Oreiatai, was changed to Brasiai (Brasiae) after the washing up of the chest to land . . . The people of Brasiai add that Ino in the course of her wanderings came to the country and agreed to become the nurse of Dionysos. They show the cave where Ino nursed him, and call the plain the garden of Dionysos."

Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4. 2. 1 (trans. Oldfather) (Greek historian C1st B.C.) :
"Semele was loved by Zeus because of her beauty, but since he had his intercourse with her secretly and without speech she thought that the god despised her; consequently she made the request of him that he come to her embraces in the same manner as in his approaches to Hera. Accordingly, Zeus visited her in a way befitting a god, accompanied by thundering and lightning, revealing himself to her as he embraced her; but Semele, who was pregnant and unable to endure the majesty of the divine presence, brought forth the babe untimely and was herself slain by the fire. Thereupon Zeus, taking up the child [Dionysos], handed it over to the care of Hermes, and ordered him to take it to the cave in Nysa . . . where he should deliver it to the Nymphai."

Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 5. 52. 1 :
"Zeus, on the occasion when Semele had been slain by his lightning before the time for bearing the child, took the babe and sewed it up in his thigh."

Philostratus the Elder, Imagines 1. 14 (trans. Fairbanks) (Greek rhetorician C3rd A.D.) :
"[Ostensibly a description of an ancient Greek painting in Neapolis (Naples):] Bronte (Thunder), stern of face, and Astrape (Lightning) flashing light from her eyes, and raging fire from heaven that has laid hold of a king's house, suggest the following tale, if it is one you know. A cloud of fire encompassing Thebes breaks into the dwelling of Kadmos as Zeus comes wooing Semele; and Semele apparently is destroyed, but Dionysos is born, by Zeus, so I believe, in the presence of the fire. And the form of Semele is dimly seen as she goes to the heavens, where the Mousai (Muses) will hymn her praises : but Dionysos leaps forth as his mother's womb is rent apart and he makes the flame look dim, so brilliantly does he shine like a radiant star."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 155 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Sons of Jove [Zeus] . . . Liber [Dionysos] by Semele daughter of Cadmus and Harmonia."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 167 :
"Liber [Dionysos Zagreus], son of Jove [Zeus] and Proserpina [Persephone], was dismembered by the Titanes, and Jove [Zeus] gave his heart, torn to bits, to Semele in a drink. When she was made pregnant by this, Juno [Hera], changing herself to look like Semele's nurse, Beroe, said to her: ‘Daughter, ask Jove [Zeus] to come to you as he comes to Juno, so you may know what pleasure it is to sleep with a god.’ At her suggestion Semele made this request of Jove, and was smitten by a thunderbolt. He took Liber [Dionysos] from her womb, and gave him to Nysus to be cared for. For this reason he is called Dionysus, and also ‘the one with two mothers.’"

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 179 :
"Jove [Zeus] desired to lie with Semele, and when Juno found out, she changed her form to that of the nurse Beroe, came to Semele, and suggested that she ask Jove to come to her as he came to Juno [Hera], ‘that you may know,’ she said, ‘what pleasure it is to lie with a god.’ And so Semele asked Jove [Zeus] to come to her in this way. Her request was granted, and Jove, coming with lightning and thunder, burned Semele to death. From her womb Liber [Dionysos] was born. Mercury [Hermes] snatched him from the fire and gave him to Nysus to be reared. In Greek he is called Dionysus."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 3. 255 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Now a new offence [to Hera] followed the last, the grievous news that Semele was pregnant by great Jove [Zeus]. Harsh words rose to her lips, ‘But what have words ever achieved?’ she said. That girl herself must now be dealt with. Her, if I'm well named almighty Juno [Hera], if I'm fit to wield my jeweled scepter, if I'm queen of heaven, Jove's [Zeus'] wife and sister--sister certainly--her I'll destroy. Yet secret stolen love may well be all she wants. My marriage bonds suffer brief harm. No! she's conceived--that crowns it! Her budding womb carries her glaring guilt. She means to be a mother by great Jove [Zeus]--luck hardly ever mine! Such confidence in her good looks! I'll see it let her down. I'm never Saturnus' [Kronos'] child if she's not swallowed in Styx's waves, sunk by her Jove himself!
Then rising from her throne she wrapped herself in a bright golden cloud and visited the home of Semele, and kept the cloud till she'd disguised herself as an old woman, with white hair on her forehead, wrinkled skin, bowed back and shaky steps, and speaking too like an old woman. She was Beroe, the Epidaurian nurse of Semele. They talked of many things and then the name of Jove [Zeus] came up. ‘I pray it may be Jove,’ she sighed, ‘All these things frighten me. So often men, claiming to be gods, have gained the beds of simple girls. But even to be Jove is not enough; he ought to prove his love, if he is Jove. In all the power and glory that's his when heavenly Juno [Hera] welcomes him, beg him to don his godhead and take you in the same power and glory in his arms.’
So Juno [Hera] moulded Cadmus' daughter's mind. The girl, unwittingly, asked of Jove a boon unnamed. ‘Choose what you wil,l’ the god replied, ‘There's nothing I'll refuse; and should you doubt, the Power of rushing Styx shall be my witness, the deity whom all gods hold in awe.’
She, too successful, happy in her ruin, doomed by her lover's generosity, answered ‘Give me yourself in the same grace as when your Juno [Hera] holds you to her breast in love's embrace.’
He would have locked her lips; too late: her words had hastened on their way. He groaned: her wish could never be unwished, his oath never unsworn. In bitterest grief he soared ascending to the ethereal sky, and by his nod called up the trailing clouds and massed a storm, with lightnings in the squalls, and thunder and the bolts that never miss. Even so he tried, as far as he had power, to curb his might, and would not wield the fire with which he's felled the hundred-handed giant [Typhoeus]. That was too fierce. There is another bolt, a lighter one, in which the Cyclops forged a flame less savage and a lesser wrath, called by the gods his second armament. With this in hand he went to Semele in Cadmus' palace. Then her mortal frame could not endure the tumult of the heavens; that gift of love consumed her.
From her womb her baby, still not fully formed, was snatched, and sewn (could one believe the tale) inside his father's thigh, and so completed there his mother's time. Ino, his mother's sister, in secret from the cradle nursed the child and brought him up, and then the Nymphae of Nysa were given his charge and kept him hidden away within their caves, and nourished him on milk. Down on earth as destiny ordained these things took place, and Bacchus [Dionysos], baby twice born, was cradled safe and sound."


THE APOTHEOSIS OF SEMELE

Hesiod, Theogony 940 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or 7th B.C.) :
"And Semele, daughter of Kadmos (Cadmus) was joined with him in love [with Zeus] and bare him a splendid son, joyous Dionysos,--a mortal woman an immortal son. And now they both are gods."

Pindar, Olympian Ode 2 str2 (trans. Conway) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.) :
"Such is the tale told of the fair-throned maids of Kadmos (Cadmus), who suffered mightily, but heavy woe falls before greater good. With the immortals Semele of the flowing locks lives still--who died in the roar of thunder--and Pallas [Athene] loves her ever, and Zeus no less, and dearly too the ivy-bearing god [Dionysos], her son."

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3. 38 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"He [Dionysos] retrieved his mother [Semele] from Haides' realm, gave her the name Thyone, and escorted her up to the sky."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 2. 31. 2 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"[In the temple of Artemis at Troizenos in Argolis:] are altars to the gods said to rule under the earth. It is here that they say Semele was brought out of Haides by Dionysos, and that Herakles dragged up the Hound of Haides. But I cannot bring myself to believe even that Semele died at all, seeing that she was the wife of Zeus."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 2. 37. 6 :
"The Alkyonian Lake [near Nemea, Argos], through which the Argives say Dionysos went down to Haides to bring up Semele, adding that the descent here was shown him by Polymnos."

Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4. 25. 4 (trans. Oldfather) (Greek historian C1st B.C.) :
"The myths relate that Dionysos brought up his mother Semele from Hades, and that, sharing with her his own immortality, he changed her name to Thyone."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 251 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Those sho, by permission of the Parcae [Moirai, Fates], returned from the lower world ... Father Liber [Dionysos]; he descended for Semele, his mother, daughter of Cadmus."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Astronomica 2. 5 :
"But those who wrote the Argolica give the following reason [why the constellation Crown was placed in the heavens]. When Liber [Dionysos] received permission from his father to bring back his mother Semele from the lower world, and in seeking a place of descent had come to the land of the Argives, a certain Hyplipnus met him, a man worthy of that generation, who was to show the entrance to Liber [Dionysos] in answer to his request . . . So then, when Liber came to that place and was about to descend, he left the crown, which he had received as a gift from Venus [Aphrodite], at that place which in consequence is called Stephanos, for he was unwilling to take it with him for fear the immortal gift of the gods would be contaminated by contact with the dead. When he brought his mother back unharmed, he is said to have placed the crown in the stars as an everlasting memorial."

Seneca, Hercules Furens 16 (trans. Miller) (Roman tragedy C1st A.D.) :
"Not alone has Bacchus [Dionysos] himself or the [Semele] mother of Bacchus attained the skies . . . [but also] the heavens wear the crown of the Cretan maid [Ariadne]."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 7. 352 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"[Zeus addresses Semele:] ‘Europa glorified by Zeus' bed went to Krete (Crete), Semele goes to Olympos. What more do you want after heaven and the starry sky . . . you bring forth a son who shall not die and you I will call immortal. Happy woman! You have conceived a son who will make mortals forget their troubles,, you shall bring forth joy for gods and men.’"

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 8. 98 ff :
"I can see Semele and Bakkhos [Dionysos] denizens of Olympos, and Ariadne's crown translated to the stars to run its course with Helios (the Sun)."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 8. 402 ff :
"[Semele was consumed by the fire of Zeus' lightning bolts:] Semele saw her fiery end, and perished rejoicing in a childbearing death [the baby Dionysos]. In one bridal chamber could be seen Himeros (Desire), Eileithyia, and the Erinyes (Avengers) together. So the babe half-grown, and his limbs washed with heavenly fire, was carried by Hermes to his father for the lying-in.
Zeus was able to change the mind of jealous Hera, to clam and undo the savage threatening resentment which burdened her. Semele consumed by the fire he translated into the starry vault; he gave the mother of Bakkhos (Bacchus) a home in the sky among the heavenly inhabitants, as one of Hera's family, as daughter of Harmonia sprung from both Ares and Aphrodite. So her new body bathed in the purifying fire . . ((lacuna)) she received the immortal life of the Olympians. Instead of Kadmos (Cadmus) and the soil of earth, instead of Autonoe and Agaue (Agave), she found Artemis by her side, she had converse with Athena, she received the heavens as her wedding-gift, sitting at one table with Zeus and Hermaon [Hermes] and Ares and Kythereia [Aphrodite]."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 9. 206 ff :
"Semele in Olympos [immortalised after her death], with a breath of the thunderbolts still about her, lifted a proud neck and cried with haughty voice -‘Hera, you are ruined! Semele's son has beaten you! Zeus brought forth my son, he was the mother in my place! The father begot, the father brought forth his begotten. He brought forth a child from a makeshift womb of his own, and forced nature to change. Bakkhos was stronger than Enyalios; your Ares he only begot, and never childed with his thigh! Thebes has eclipsed the glory of Ortygia! For Leto the divine was chased about and brought forth Apollon on the sly; Leto brought forth Phoibos, Kronion had no labour for him; Maia brought forth Hermes, her husband did not deliver him; but my son was brought forth openly by his father. Here's a great miracle! See Dionysos in the arms of your own mother, he lies on that cherishing arm! The Dispenser of the eternal universe, the first sown Beginning of the gods, the Allmother, became a nurse for Bromios; she offered to infant Bakkhos the breast which Zeus High and Mighty has sucked! What Kronides was ever in labour, what Rheia was ever nurse for your boy? But this Kybele (Cybele) who is called your mother brought forth Zeus and suckled Bakkhos (Bacchus) in the same lap! She dandled them both, the son and the father. No fatherless Hephaistos could rival Semele's child, none unbegotten of a father whom Hera brought forth by her own begetting--and now he limps about on an illmatched pair of feeble legs to hide his mother's bungling skill in childbirth!. . .’
She spoke exulting even in the sky; but the angry consort of Zeus fell heavily in surprise upon the house of Athamas and scared Ino into flight."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 10. 67 ff :
"Kronides [Zeus] pointed her [Ino immortalised in the sea] out to the mother of Lyaios [Semele mother of Dionysos], because she owed it to Bromios that she was a goddess. Semele in her joy addressed her seafaring sister in mockery: ‘Ino, you have the sea, Semele has gained the round heavens! Give me place! I had an immortal husband in Kronides [Zeus] the plower of my field, who brought forth the fruit of my birth instead of me; but you were wedded to a mortal mate Athamas, the murderer of your family. Your son's lot is the sea, but my son will come to the house of Zeus to dwell in the sky. I will not compare heavenly Dionysos with Melikertes down in the water!’
That is how Semele the heavenly bride yelled out in mockery of her sister Ino's life who dwelt in the sea."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 25. 115 ff :
"Semele did mount into heaven to touch one table with Zeus and the Blessed, to site beside her son Dionysos of the vine."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 44. 123 ff :
"Already Pheme (Rumous) was flying about the seven-gated city [of Thebes upon the return of Dionysos] proclaiming the rites of Dionysos . . . The chamber of Semele, still breathing sparks of the marriage thunders, was shaded by selfgrowing bunches of green leaves which intoxicated the place with sweet odours."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 45. 31 ff :
"So crying she [Agaue the aunt of Dionysos] flew away, a new skipping Mimallon, practising the Euian leap of the winepress, calling Euoi to Bakkhos (Bacchus) and lauding Thyone--aye, and she called to Semele, wife of Zeus the highest, and loudly sang the brightness of those bridal lightnings."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 47. 665 ff :
"The Moirai's (Fates') threads obey not persuasion . . . Your [Dionysos'] mother [Semele] perished too, while she still carried you in her womb; Semele entered not the gates of Olympos before death, but after she had received her fate."


HYMNS TO SEMELE THYONE

Orphic Hymn 44 to Semele (trans. Taylor) (Greek hymns C3rd B.C. to 2nd A.D.) :
"To Semele, Fumigation from Storax. Kadmeis (daughter of Kadmos) Goddess, universal queen, thee, Semele, I call, of beauteous mien; deep-bosomed, lovely flowing locks are thine, mother of Dionysos, joyful and divine, the mighty offspring, whom Zeus' thunder bright forced immature, and frightened into light. Born from the deathless counsels, secret, high, of Kronion Zeus, regent of the sky; whom Persephone permits to view the light, and visit mortals from the realms of night. Constant attending on the sacred rites, and feast triennial [the Orgia], which thy soul delights; when thy son's wondrous birth mankind relate, and secrets pure and holy celebrate. Now I invoke thee, great queen Kadmeis, to bless thy mystics, lenient and serene."


CULT OF SEMELE THYONE

Homeric Hymn 1 to Dionysus (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C7th to 4th B.C.) :
"And many will lay up for her [Semele] many offerings in her shrines . . . Dionysos, Insewn, with your mother Semele who men call Thyone."

Pindar, Pythian Ode 11 str1 - ant1 (trans. Conway) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.) :
"Daughter of Kadmos (Cadmus), Semele from your high place amidst the queens of heaven, and Ino Leukothea (Leucothea), you who dwell by the immortal sea-nymphai, Nereus' daughters, come with [Alkmene] the noble mother of Herakles to the shrine of Melia [in Thebes], to the treasure-house of golden tripods, the temple that above all others Apollon held in honour, and he named it the Ismenion, the seat of prophecy that known no lie. Daughters of Harmonia, the god now summons to assemble here that band of heroine women who dwelt within this land, that you may sing in praise of holy Themis and Pytho, and the centre-stone of earth, whose word is justice--here as evening's shadows fall."

Pindar, Dithyrambs Fragment 75 (trans. Sandys) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.) :
"Clearly seen are the bright symbols of sacred rites, whensoever, at the opening of the chamber of the purple-robed Horai (Seasons) [in Thebes], the fragrant spring bringeth the nectar-breathing plants. Then, oh then, are flung on the immortal earth the lovely tresses of violets, and roses are entwined in the hair; then ring the voices of songs to the sound of flutes; then ring the dances in honour of diadem-wreathed Semele."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 3. 19. 3-5 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"On the altar [of Apollon at Amyklai in Lakedaimon] are wrought in relief . . . Zeus and Hermes are conversing; near stand Dionysos and [the apotheosized] Semele, with [her apotheosized sister] Ino by her side."


Sources:

  • Hesiod, Theogony - Greek Epic C8th-7th BC
  • The Homeric Hymns - Greek Epic C8th-4th BC
  • Pindar, Odes - Greek Lyric C5th BC
  • Pindar, Fragments - Greek Lyric C5th BC
  • Greek Lyric IV Bacchylides, Fragments - Greek Lyric C5th BC
  • Apollodorus, The Library - Greek Mythography C2nd BC
  • The Orphic Hymns - Greek Hymns BC
  • Pausanias, Guide to Greece - Greek Geography C2nd AD
  • Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History - Greek History C1st BC
  • Philostratus the Elder, Imagines - Greek Rhetoric C3rd A.D.
  • Hyginus, Fabulae - Latin Mythography C2nd AD
  • Hyginus, Astronomica - Latin Mythography C2nd AD
  • Ovid, Metamorphoses - Latin Epic C1st BC - C1st AD
  • Seneca, Hercules Furens - Latin Tragedy C1st AD
  • Statius, Thebaid - Latin Epic C1st AD
  • Nonnus, Dionysiaca - Greek Epic C5th AD

Other references not currently quoted here: the story of Semele from Nonnus' Dionysiaca