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Ζαγρεύς). A surname of the mystic Dionysus (Bacchus), whom Zeus, in the form of a serpent, is said to have begotten by Persephoné, before she was carried off by Pluto. He was torn to pieces by the Titans, after he had assumed various shapes to evade them. His mangled remains were buried at Delphi, and Athené brought his heart to Zeus, who swallowed it and thereupon brought forth a new Dionysus called Iacchus, who was nursed by nymphs and satyrs in a winnowingbasket (vannus), thenceforth a symbol of Dionysus. The story, nearly akin to the Egyptian myth of Osiris, whom the Greeks identified with Dionysus, is now regarded as a myth, in the first place, of the death in winter and renewal in spring of the vegetation; for the swinging of the basket was the ritual by which in early times it was sought to rouse the plant-life from its sleep; and, in the second place, it expressed the belief in a death and a resurrection: for both these reasons Iacchus (or Dionysus) was associated with Demeter and Coré (or Persephoné) in the Mysteries. The notoriety of the evils resulting from the worst festivals of Dionysus, and the evil repute of the Bacchanalia, have tended to obscure the purer and more elevating part of the religion, but it is important not to forget it. The rending of Dionysus-Zagreus cannot be dismissed as merely the crushing of the grape; it is rather the tearing of the victims in savage sacrifices, possibly in “totem” sacrifices; and in such sacrifices the deity, that is, sacred animal (at one time a human sacrifice), was often slain, and the eating of the slaughtered victim was supposed to give to the worshippers some of the strength and power of the deity. Out of some such ritual the story of the death of Zagreus probably arose. The rites spread westward from Crete through the islands, and so reached Athens (Diod.v. 74). Hence perhaps the savage worship of Dionysus ὠμηστής (eater of raw flesh) at Lesbos, Chios, and Tenedos, betokening human sacrifice to the god of vines in early times, though it may as probably have been derived from Thrace or Phrygia; for the frantic worship of the Thracian or the Boeotian thiasus had the same characteristics. At Naxos his rites were less barbarous, and that island, which claimed also to be the birthplace of the god, seems to have passed on some of the ritual, including the marriage of Dionysus, to Athens. Dionysus, or Bacchus, was introduced into the Roman worship through Magna Graecia and Etruria, and with all the worst features of the rites, and the name and story of Bacchus took the place of the native Italian deity of the vintage. See Dionysia; Dionysus; Mysteria.

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