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DIONYSOS MYTHS 3
 
Greek Name Transliteration Latin Spelling Roman Name
Διονυσος Dionysos Dionysus Bacchus
OTHER DIONYSOS PAGES

Dionysos Intro, Index & Gallery
Dionysos God of
Dionysos Myths 1, Part 2
Dionysos Wrath 1, Part 2
Dionysos Favour
Dionysos Family
Dionysos Loves 1, Part 2
Dionysos Cult 1, Part 2
Dionysos Titles & Epithets
Dionysos Summary

DIONYSOS was the great Olympian god of wine, vegetation, pleasure and festivity.

This page contains the stories of Dionysos set in the East, from Anatolia, to Egypt, Phoenicia and India. These include:

1. Summary of Dionysos in the East
2. Wanderings in Egypt & Syra
3. Flight from the Giant Typhoeus
4. Dionysos Mentored by Rhea-Kybele
5. The Amazon & Skythian War of Dionysos
6. The Pillars of India
7. The Indian War of Dionysos

The first two Myth pages describe the god's birth, childhood and adventures in Greece.


DIONYSOS IN THE EAST (SUMMARY)

This page describes the adventures in the East: Egypt and Libya, Syria and Phoinikia, Phrygia and Anatolia, and distant reaches of India.

Dionysos was closely identified by the Greeks with a number of Eastern vegetation gods: Egyptian Osiris, Phoenician Tammuz, Arabian Orotalt, Phrygian Sabazios, and the vegetation god of the Indians.

His birth place, Mt Nysa, was similarly identified with a number of eastern holy mountains in Phoenicia, Egypt, Arabia, and India.

The Greeks had a number of myths explaining the links between these gods, and adopted myths of foreign origin into the Dionysian saga.

For MORE information see Dionysos Identified with Foreign Gods
(Sabazios, Tammuz, Osiris, Orotalt, Indian-god)

I) DIONYSOS-SABAZIOS (PHRYGIA)

For MYTHS of Dionysos-Sabazios in Phrygia see:
(1) Dionysos Mentored by Rhea-Kybele (Phrygian mother goddess)
(2) Dionysos Favour: Midas (Phrygian king)
(3) The Amazon War of Dionysos

II) DIONYSOS-TAMMUZ (PHOENICIA)

For MYTHS of Dionysos-Tammuz in Phoenicia see:
(1) Mt Nysa Birthplace of Dionysos (Phoenician Mt Nysa)
(2) The Wanderings of Dionysos in Syria
(3) Dionysos Loves: Beroe (Tammuz and Astarte)
(4) Dionysos Wrath: Lykourgos (sometimes set in Phoenicia)

III) DIONYSOS-OROTALT (ARABIA)

For MYTHS of Dionysos-Orotalt in Arabia see:
(1) Mt Nysa Birthplace of Dionysos (Arabian Mt Nysa)

IV) DIONYSOS-OSIRIS (EGYPT)

For MYTHS of Dionysos-Orotalt in Egypt see:
(1) Mt Nysa Birthplace of Dionysos (Egyptian Mt Nysa)
(2) The Wanderings of Dionysos in Egypt (founder of oracle of Ammon)
(3) Dionysos & the Gigante Typhoeus (hides in Eygpt disguised as a goat)

V) DIONYSOS-INDIAN GOD (INDIA)

For MYTHS of Dionysos in India see:
(1) Mt Nysa Birthplace of Dionysos (Indian Mt Nysa)
(2) Dionysos & the Pillars of India
(3) The Indian War of Dionysos

Euripides, Bacchae 14 ff (trans. Buckley) (Greek tragedy C5th B.C.) :
"I [Dionysos] have left the wealthy lands of the Lydians and Phrygians, the sun-parched plains of the Persians, and the Bactrian walls, and have passed over the wintry land of the Medes, and blessed Arabia, and all of Asia [Anatolia] which lies along the coast of the salt sea with its beautifully-towered cities full of Hellenes and barbarians mingled together; and I have come to this Hellene city [Thebes] first, having already set those other lands [of the East] to dance and established my mysteries (telete) there, so that I might be a deity manifest among men."

Cicero, De Natura Deorum 3. 21-23 (trans. Rackham) (Roman rhetorician C1st B.C.) :
"The father of the third [god identified by the Greeks with Dionysos, the Phrygian Sabazios] is Cabirus; it is stated that he was king over Asia, and the Sabazia were instituted in his honour."


Z12.4 DIONYSOS,
AFRICAN LION
Z12.6 DIONYSOS,
ASIAN TIGERS
Z12.3 DIONYSOS,
ASIAN TIGERS
 

WANDERINGS OF DIONYSOS IN EGYPT & SYRIA

I) WANDERINGS IN AIGYPTOS & SYRIA

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2. 29 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"After Hera inflicted madness upon him [Dionysos, after first reaching adulthood], he wandered over Aigyptos (Egypt) and Syria. The Aigyptian king Proteus first welcomed him."

Cicero, De Natura Deorum 3. 21-23 (trans. Rackham) (Roman rhetorician C1st B.C.) :
"The second [god identified by the Greeks with Dionysos] is the one of the Nile - he [the Egyptian Osiris] is the fabled slayer of Nysa."

For the MYTH of the god's madness see the Madness of Dionysos
Compare Proteus of Egypt with the Argive Proitos in Dionysos Wrath: the Proitides

II) FOUNDS THE TEMPLE OF ZEUS AMMON

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 133 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"When Liber [Dionysos] was hunting for water in India, and hadn’t succeeded, ram is said to have sprung suddenly from the ground, and with this as guide he found water. So he asked Jove [Zeus] to put the ram among the stars, and to this day it is called the equinoctial ram. Moreover, in the place where he found water he established a temple which his called the temple of Jove [Zeus] Ammon."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 275 :
"Towns and their founders . . . Liber [Dionysos] in India, founded Hammon [in Libya with its famous oracle of the ram-horrned god Zeus-Ammon]."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Astronomica 2. 20 :
"Hermippus says that at the time when Liber [Dionysos] was attacking Africa he came with his army to the place called Ammodes from the great quantities of sand. He was in great danger, since he saw he had to advance, and an added difficulty was the great scarcity of water. The army were almost at the point of exhaustion, and the men were wondering what to do, when a certain ram, wandering apart, came by chance near the soldiers. When it saw them it took safety in flight. The soldiers, however, who had seen it, though they were advancing with difficulty oppressed by the sand and heat, gave chase, as if seeking booty from the flames, and followed it to that place which was named from the temple of Jove Hammon [Zeus Ammon] later founded there. When they had come there, the ram which they had followed was nowhere to be seen, but what was more to be desired, they found an abundant supply of water, and, refreshed in body, reported it at once to Liber. In joy he led his army to that place, and founded a temple to Jove Hammon, fashioning a statue there with the horns of a ram. He put the ram among the constellations in such a way that when the sun should be in that sign, all growing things would be refreshed; this happens in the spring for the reason that the ram’s flight refreshed the army of Liber. He wished it, too, to be chief of the twelve signs, because the ram had been the best leader of his army.
But Leon, who wrote about Egyptian affairs, speaks of the statue of Hammon as follows. When Liber [Dionysos, perhaps here Osiris] was ruling over Eygpt and the other lands, and was said to have introduced all arts to mankind, a certain Hammon came from Africa and brought to him a great flock of sheep, in order more readily to enjoy his favour and be called the first inventor of something. And so, for his kindness, Liber is thought to have given him the land opposite Egyptian Thebes. Accordingly, those who make statues of Hammon, make them with horned heads, so that men may remember that he first showed the use of flocks. Those, however, who have wished to assign the gift to Liber, as not asked for from Hammon, but brought to him voluntarily, make those horned images for Liber, and say that in commemoration the ram was placed among the constellations."

N.B. Greek legends of the founding of the temple of Ammon in Libya are all older than Alexander the Great. Lacantus Placitus (on Statius' Thebaid 3.476) says Dionysos founded the temple on his return from India.


DIONYSOS & THE GIGANTE TYPHOEUS

Antoninus Liberalis, Metamorphoses 28 (trans. Celoria) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Typhon . . . felt an urge to usurp the rule of Zeus and not one of the gods could withstand him as he attacked. In panic they fled to Aigyptos (Egypt), all except Athena and Zeus, who alone were left. Typhon hunted after them, on their track. When they fled they had changed themselves in anticipation into animal forms.
Apollon became a hawk [the Egyptian god Horus], Hermes an ibis [Egyptian Thoth] . . . Dionysos took the shape of a goat [the Egyptian god Osiris or Arsaphes] . . . [etc]."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 5. 319 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Typhoeus, issuing from earth’s lowest depths, struck terror in those heavenly hearts, and they all turned their backs and fled, until they found refuge in Aegyptus and the seven-mouthed Nilus . . . Typhoeus Terrigena (Earthborn) even there pursued them and the gods concealed themselves in spurious shapes; ‘And Juppiter [Zeus] became a ram . . . and so today great Libyan Ammon' [Zeus-Ammon] shown with curling horns. Delius [Apollon] hid as a raven [the Egyptian god Horus], Semeleia [Dionysos] as a goat [the Egyptian god Osiris or Arsaphes], Phoebe [Artemis] a cat [egyptian Bastet] . . . [etc.]’"

Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 4. 235 ff (trans. Mozley) (Roman epic C1st A.D.) :
"Typhoeus, boasting that already the kingdom of the sky and already the stars were won, felt aggrieved that Bacchus [Dionysos] in the van [of a chariot] and Pallas, foremost of the gods, and a maiden’s snakes [Athena's aegis] confronted him."

Suidas s.v. Osiris (trans. Suda On Line) (Byzantine Greek lexicon C10th A.D.) :
"Osiris: Some say he was Dionysos, others say another; who was dismembered by the daimon Typhon [Set] and became a great sorrow for the Egyptians, and they kept the memory of his dismemberment for all time."

In Nonnus' Dionysiaca the rampage of Typhoeus occurs in the time of Kadmos' journey to Greece (Kadmos was the grandfather of Dionysos), and so long before the birth of the god.

For MORE information on this Gigante see TYPHOEUS


DIONYSOS MENTORED BY RHEA-KYBELE

Euripides implies that Dionysos' was mentored by the great Phrygian mother-goddess Kybele in the rites of the orgia.

"[Dionysos:] 'You women who have left Tmolos, the bulwark of Lydia, my sacred band [of Bakkhai], whom I have brought from among the barbarians as assistants and companions to me, take your drums, native instruments of the city of the Phrygians, the invention of mother Rhea and myself." - Euripides, Bacchae 45

Euripides, Bacchae 70 ff (trans. Buckley) (Greek tragedy C5th B.C.) :
"Chorus of Bakkhai: From the land of Asia, having left sacred Tmolos, I am swift to perform for Bromios . . . celebrating the god Bakkhos . . . Blessed is he who, being fortunate and knowing the rites of the gods . . . and who, revering the mysteries of great mother Kybele, brandishing the thyrsos, garlanded with ivy, serves Dionysos."

Euripides, Bacchae 120 ff :
"The Korybantes [of Kybele] with triple helmet invented for me in their caves this circle [the castanet], covered with stretched hide; and in their excited revelry they mingled it with the sweet-voiced breath of Phrygian pipes and handed it over to mother Rhea, resounding with the sweet songs of the Bakkhai; nearby, raving Satyroi were fulfilling the rites of the mother goddess, and they joined it to the dances of the biennial festivals (trieteris), in which Dionysos rejoices."

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2. 29 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"He [Dionysos in his youth] went to Kybela [Rhea] in Phrygia. There he was purified by Rhea [of the madness inflicted upon him by Hera] and taught the mystic rites of initiation, after which he received from her his gear and set out eagerly through Thrake." [N.B. Apollodorus is probably summarising the account of Euripides.]

The geographer Strabo also says that Dionysos received the rites of the Orgia from Kybele quoting both Pindar and Euripides, Bacchae.

Strabo, Geography 10. 3. 13 (trans. Jones) (Greek geographer C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"When Pindaros, in the dithyramb which begins with these words, ‘In earlier times there marched the lay of the dithyrambs long drawn out,’ mentions the hymns sung in honor of Dionysos, both the ancient and the later ones, and then, passing on from these, says, ‘To perform the prelude in thy honor, Megale Meter (Great Mother), the whirling of cymbals is at hand, and among them, also, the clanging of castanets, and the torch that blazeth beneath the tawny pine-trees,’ he bears witness to the common relationship between the rites exhibited in the worship of Dionysos among the Greeks and those in the worship of the Meter Theon (Mother of the Gods) [Kybele] among the Phrygians, for he makes these rites closely akin to one another.
And Euripides does likewise, in his Bakkhai, citing the Lydian usages at the same time with those of Phrygia, because of their similarity: ‘But ye who left Mt. Tmolos, fortress of Lydia, revel-band of mine [Dionysos], women whom I brought from the land of barbarians as my assistants and travelling companions, uplift the tambourines native to Phrygian cities, inventions of mine and mother Rhea.’
And again, ‘happy he who, blest man, initiated in the mystic rites, is pure in his life, [text missing] who, preserving the righteous Orgia (Orgies) of the great mother Kybele, and brandishing the thyrsos on high, and wreathed with ivy, doth worship Dionysos. Come, ye Bakkhai, come, ye Bakkhai, bringing down Bromios, god the child of god, out of the Phrygian mountains into the broad highways of Greece.’
And again, . . . ‘the triple-crested Korybantes in their caverns invented this hide-stretched circlet [the tambourine], and blent its Bakkhic revelry with the high-pitched, sweet-sounding breath of Phrygian flutes, and in Rhea's hands placed its resounding noise, to accompany the shouts of the Bakkhai, and from Meter (Mother) Rhea frenzied Satyroi obtained it and joined it to the choral dances of the Trieterides, in whom Dionysos takes delight.’"

Nonnus in his epic Dionysiaca describing the adventures of Dionysos, provides a colourful account of the god's youth spent with Rhea. A few selected passages are quoted here:-

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 1. 20 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"Bakkhos [Dionysos, as a babe] on the arm of buxom Rheia, stealthily draining the breast of the lion-breeding goddess."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 9. 136 ff :
"She [the jealous Hera] would have destroyed the son of Zeus [Dionysos still a baby in the care of the Theban princess Ino]; but Hermes caught him up, and carried him to the wooded ridge where Kybele dwelt. Moving fast, Hera ran swift-shoe on quick feet from high heaven; but he was before her, and assumed the eternal shape of first –born Phanes [one of the first born gods]. Hera in respect for the most ancient of the gods, gave him place and bowed before the radiance of the deceiving face, not knowing the borrowed shape for a fraud. So Hermes passed over the mountain tract with quicker step than hers, carrying the horned child folded in his arms, and gave it to Rheia, nurse of lions, mother of Father Zeus, and said these few words to the goddess mother of the greatest:
‘Receive, goddess, a new son of your Zeus! He is to fight with the Indians, and when he has done with earth he will come into the starry sky, to the great joy of resentful Hera! Indeed it is not proper that Ino should be nurse to one whom Zeus brought forth. Let the mother of Zeus be nanny to Dionysos – mother of Zeus and nurse of her grandson!’
This said he put off the higher shape of selfborn Phanes and put on his own form again, leaving Bakkhos to grow a second time in the Meter's (Mother's) nurture.
The goddess took care of him; and while he was yet a boy, she set him to drive a car drawn by ravening lions. Within that godwelcoming courtyard, the tripping Korybantes would surround Dionysos with their childcherishing dance, and clash their swords, and strike their shields with rebounding steel in alternate movements, to conceal the growing boyhood of Dionysos; and as the boy listened to the fostering noise of the shields he grew up under the care of the Korybantes like his father.
At nine years old the youngster went a-hunting his game to the kill . . . he would hold lightly aloft stretched on his shoulders a bold fellstriped tiger unshackled, and brought in hand to show Rheia the cubs he had torn newborn from the dam’s milky teats. He dragged horrible lions all alive, and clutching a couple of feet in each hand presented them to the Mother that she might yoke them to her car. Rheia looked on laughing with joy, and admired the manliness and doughty feats of young Dionysos; his father Kronion [Zeus] laughed when he saw with delighted eyes Iobakkhos driving the grim lions . . .
Often he stood in the chariot of immortal Rheia, and held the flowing reins in his tenderskin hand, and checked the nimble team of galloping lions . . . Thus he grew up beside cliffloving Rheia, yet a boy in healthy youth, mountainbred."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 9. 206 ff :
"[The immortalised Semele to Hera:] ‘See [the baby] Dionysos in the arms of your own mother [Rhea], 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 [Dionysos]; 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 [Rhea] who is called your mother brought forth Zeus and suckled Bakkhos in the same lap! She dandled them both, the son and the father.’"

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 10. 139 ff :
"Dionysos, in the latitude of Lydia’s fields, grew into youthful bloom as tall as he wished, shaking the Euian gear of Rheia Kybele."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 12. 380 ff :
"To Dionysos alone had Rheia given the amethyst, which preserves the winedrinker from the tyranny of madness."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 13. 470 ff :
"The grapegrowing land of Bakkhos, where the vinegod first mixed wine for Mother Rheia in a brimming cup, and named the city Kerassai, the Mixings [in Lydia]."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 34. 214 ff :
"Vineclad Phrygia, where Rheia dwells who cared for Bromios in boyhood."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 45. 96 ff :
"[Dionysos] whom Rheia mother of the gods nursed with her cherishing milk."

Other references not currently quoted here on Rhea's rearing of Dionysos: Stephanus Byzantius s.v. Mastaura.

For the MYTH of Rhea recruiting an army for Dionysos' Indian campaign see:
The Indian War of Dionysos
For MORE information on the Goddess Rhea-Kybele see KYBELE


THE AMAZON & SKYTHIAN WAR OF DIONYSOS

Pausanias, Description of Greece 7. 2. 7 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"Some of them [the Amazones] earlier still, when they had fled from Dionysos, came to the sanctuary [of Artemis at Ephesos] as suppliants."

Seneca, Oedipus 425 ff (trans. Miller) (Roman tragedy C1st A.D.) :
"Seated in thy golden chariot, thy lions with long trappings covered, all the vast coast of the Orient saw thee [Dionysos], both he who drinks of the Ganges [the Indians] and whoever breaks the ice of snowy Araxes [the Skythians]."

Seneca, Hercules Furens 467 ff :
"On its rich stream has Lydian Pactolus borne thee, leading along its burning banks the golden waters; the Massgetan [of Thrake] who mingles blood with milk in his goblets has unstrung his vanquished bow and given up his Getan arrows; the realms of axe-wielding Lycurgus have felt the dominion of Bacchus; the fierce lands of the Zalaces have felt it, and those wandering tribes whom neighbouring Boreas smites, and the nations [of Skythians] which Maeotis’ cold water washes, and they on whom the Arcadian constellation looks down from the zenith and the wagons twain. He has subdued the scattered Gelonians; he has wrested their arms form the warrior maidens [the Amazones]; with downcast face they fell to earth, those Thermodontian hordes, gave up at length their light arrows, and became maenads."


DIONYSOS & THE PILLARS OF INDIA

Dionysos in his wanderings was said to have erected pillars the pillars at the end of the earth in India. Presumably these were the world pillars believed to hold up the sky.

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2. 29 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"[Dionysos] traversed Thrake and the whole of India and set up pillars there."

Strabo, Geography 3. 5. 6 (trans. Jones) (Greek geographer C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"In India, too, there are no Pillars, it is said, either of Herakles or of Dionysos to be seen standing, and, of course, when certain of the places there were spoken of or pointed out to the Makedonians, they believed to be the Pillars those places only in which they found some sign of the stories told about Dionysos or of those about Herakles."


Z12.18 DIONYSOS,
INDIAN WARRIOR
Z12.5 DIONYSOS,
CENTAUR CHARIOT
   

THE INDIAN WAR OF DIONYSOS

The Indian War of Dionysos is the central theme of Nonnus' late classical epic The Dionysiaca. His account of the war is too large to quote here in full.

Strabo, Geography 11. 5. 5 (trans. Jones) (Greek geographer C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"The expedition of Dionysos and Herakles to the country of the Indians looks like a mythical story of later date."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 10. 29. 4 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"Dionysos was, in my opinion . . . the first to invade India, and the first to bridge the river Euphrates. Zeugma (Bridge ) was the name given to that part of the country where the Euphrates was bridged, and at the present day the cable is still preserved with which he spanned the river; it is plaited with branches of the vine and ivy. Both the Greeks and the Egyptians have many legends about Dionysos."

Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana 2. 33 (trans. Conybeare) (Greek biography C1st to 2nd A.D.) :
"It is related, anyhow, that Herakles of Egypt and Dionysos after they had overrun the Indian people with their arms, constructed engines of war, and tried to take the place by assault; but the sages [Brahmans], instead of taking the field against them, lay quiet and passive, as it seemed to the enemy; but as soon as the latter approached they were driven off by rockets of fire and thunderbolts which were hurled obliquely from above and fell upon their armour."

Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana 2. 6-10 :
"Now the Hellenes disagree with the Indians, and the Indians among themselves, concerning this Dionysos [the wine-god worshipped in India]. For we declare that the Theban Dionysos made an expedition to India in the role of soldier and reveller, and we base our arguments, among other things, on the offering at Delphoi, which is preserved in the treasuries there. And it is a disc of Indian silver bearing the inscription: ‘Dionysos the son of Semele and of Zeus, from the men of India to the Apollon of Delphoi.’"

Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana 3. 13 :
"Now the hill [in India] the summit of which is inhabited by the sages [Brahmans] is, according to the account of our travellers, of about the same height as the Akropolis of Athens; and it rises: straight up from the plain, though its natural position equally secures it from attack for the rock surrounds it on all sides. On many parts of this rock you see traces of cloven feet and outlines of beards and of faces, and here and there impressions of backs as of persons who had slipt - and rolled down. For they say that Dionysos, when he was trying to storm the place together with Herakles, ordered the Panes to attack it, thinking that they would be strong enough to take it by assault; but they were thunderstruck by the sages and fell one, one way, and another, another; and the rocks as it were took the print of the various postures in which they fell and failed."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 131 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"When Liber [Dionysos] was leading his army into India, he gave the authority over his Theban kingdom to his nurse Nysus [Seilenos] until he should come back. But after Liber returned from there, Nysus was unwilling to yield the kingdom."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 191 :
"At the time when Father Liber [Dionysos] was leading his army into India, Silenus wandered away; Midas entertained him generously, and gave him a guide to conduct him to Liber’s [Dionysos’] company."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 4. 20 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"You [Dionysos] hold in thrall the Orient, even those remotest lands where Ganges waters dusky India."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 4. 605 ff :
"[Dionysos] conqueror of India."

Seneca, Oedipus 112 ff (trans. Miller) (Roman tragedy C1st A.D.) :
"Destruction feeds, O Bacchus, on that soldiery of thine [the Theban people], thy comrades to farthest India, who dared to ride on the Eastern plains and plant thy banners on the world’s first edge. The Arabs, blest with their cinnamon groves, they saw, and fleeing horsemen, the backs of the treacherous Parthians, to be feared for their flying shafts; they pierced to the shores of the ruddy sea [the Indian Ocean], whence Phoebus [Helios the sun] discloses his rising beams, opens the gates of day, and with nearer torch darkens the naked Indians."

Seneca, Oedipus 425 ff :
"Seated in thy golden chariot, thy lions with long trappings covered, all the vast coast of the Orient saw thee [Dionysos], both he who drinks of the Ganges [the Indians] and whoever breaks the ice of snowy Araxes [the Skythians]."

Seneca, Phaedra 753 ff :
"Thou, Bacchus [Dionysos], from thyrsus-bearing India, with unshorn locks, perpetually young, thou who frightenest tigers with thy vine-clad spear, and with a turban bindest thy hornèd head."

Pliny the Elder, Natural History 4. 39 (trans. Rackham) (Roman encyclopedia C1st A.D.) :
"[Alexander the Great] even roamed in the tracks of Father Liber [Dionysos] and of Hercules and conquered India."

Pliny the Elder, Natural History 6. 59 :
"From the time of Father Liber's [Dionysos] to Alexandrus the Great's [conquest of India] 153 kings of India are counted in a period of 6451 years and three months."

Nonnus introduces the war in his epic the Dionysiaca with Zeus sending a message to Rhea, commanding Dionysos to gather armies for an Indian War. With the help of Rhea he then gathers his armies. The introductory passages are quoted here:-

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 12. 394 - 13. 18 (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"After the revels over his [Dionysos'] sweet fruit [wine newly discovered by the young god], Dionysos proudly entered the cave of Kybeleid goddess Rheia [his foster mother], waving bunches of grapes in his flowerloving hand, and taught Maionia the vigil of his feast. Father Zeus sent Iris to the divine halls of Rheia, to inform wakethefray Dionysos, that he must drive out of Asia with his avenging thyrsus the proud race of Indians untaught of justice . . .
At once Rheia Allmother sent out her messenger to gather the host, Pyrrhikhos [one of the Korybantes], the dancer before her loverattle timbrel, to proclaim the warfare of Lyaios under arms. Pyrrhikhos, gathering a varied army for Dionysos, scoured all the settlements of the eternal word [recruiting a fabulous army for Dionysos' campaigns]."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 14. 1 ff :
"Then [while the armies of Dionysos were mustering around her palace in Phrygia] swiftshoe Rheia haltered the hairy necks of her lions beside their highland manger. She lifted her windfaring foot to run with the breezes, and paddled with her shoes through the airy spaces. So like a wing or a thought she traversed the firmament to south, to north, to west, to the turning-place of dawn, gathering the divine battalions for Lyaios: one all-comprehending summons was sounded for trees and for rivers, one call for Neiades and Hadryades, the troops of the forest. All the divine generations heard the summons of Kybele, and they came together from all sides. From high heaven to the Lydian land Rheia passed aloft with unerring foot, and returning lifted again the mystic torch in the night, warming the air a second time with Mygdonian [Lydian] fire. [She summoned the Kabeiroi, the Daktyloi, the Telkhines, Pholos & Kheiron, the Kyklopes, Panes, Kentauroi, Nymphai etc]."


Sources:

  • Euripides, Bacchae - Greek Tragedy C5th BC
  • Apollodorus, The Library - Greek Mythography C2nd BC
  • Strabo, Geography - Greek Geography C1st BC - C1st AD
  • Pausanias, Guide to Greece - Greek Geography C2nd AD
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  • Hyginus, Fabulae - Latin Mythography C2nd AD
  • Hyginus, Astronomica - Latin Mythography C2nd AD
  • Ovid, Metamorphoses - Latin Epic C1st BC - C1st AD
  • Cicero, De Natura Deorum - Latin Philosophy C1st BC
  • Seneca, Oedipus - Latin Tragedy C1st AD
  • Seneca, Phaedra - Latin Tragedy C1st AD
  • Valerius Flaccus, The Argonautica - Latin Epic C1st AD
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  • Nonnos, Dionysiaca - Greek Epic C5th AD
  • Suidas - Byzantine Lexicographer C10th AD