), a wand or
sceptre carried by Dionysos (Bacchus) and by Satyrs, Maenads, and others
engaged in Bacchic rites (Eurip. Bacchae,
80, 88, 733, 762, 1099; Cyclops,
62, Βάκχαι τε θυρσοφόροι;
a; Verg. A. 7.390
; Hor. Od. 2.19
, &c.). It
usually consists of a straight staff surmounted by a pine-cone (Anth.
6.165, θύρσου χλοερὸν κωνοφόρου
), or by a bunch of vine-leaves and grapes or
ivy-leaves and berries (Ov. Met. 11.27
; Propert. 3.3, 35). A riband or
fillet is found attached to it, just below the pine-cone or the bunch of
leaves. On the monuments, the pine-cone
Thyrsi, from a Greek vase. (Hamilton.)
appears most commonly to form the head of the thyrsus. The
pinecone-headed thyrsus is held by Dionysos on an Attic terracotta of early
style figured in Baumeister, Denskm.,
art. Dionysos, fig.
481, and is seen in the hands of Dionysos and a Satyr on an amphora of good
style figured ib.,
art. Dionysos, fig. 491 =
vi. vii., Taf. 70. It may also be seen on
red-figured vases of the best period (e. g. in the British Museum, vases
labelled E 164, E 179, E 356, E 372, E 379) and on later vases (British
Museum, F 91), on gems (A. H. Smith, Brit. Mus. Cat. Engraved
Nos. 957, 1023), on Roman reliefs (Anc. a Marbles in
ii. pl. xii.), and on coins (the thyrsus is an
occasional type and a not infrequent symbol on coins. It has the pine-cone
head). The thyrsus with the ivy-bunch top is found on vases both of the dine
(British Museum, E 54, E 109, E 153) and later periods (Brit. Mus. F. 377).
Occasionally, as on certain Roman terracotta reliefs in the British Museum
(Descript. of Anc. Terracottas in Beit. Mus.,
pl. xiii.; ib. No. xxxvii., pl. xx.), the thyrsus has the pine-cone at each
end of the staff. An interesting coin of Amisus in Pontus, struck under the
influence of Mithridates Eupator (the Great), shows a pineconeheaded thyrsus
with the staff formed of a pinebranch: from the riband attached to this
thyrsus is suspended a bell on a cymbal, an unusual addition (see Wroth,
&c. pl. iii. No. 10; p. 18, No.
58: cp. the thyrsus, ib. pl. iii. Nos. 7, 8, 9).
The pine-cone or leafy bunch of the thyrsus was sometimes supposed to conceal
a spear-head, used as a weapon by Dionysos and his followers. This is what
is properly called the θυρσόλογχος
ap. Athen. 5.200
; Lucian, Bacch.
4; Ov. Met. 3.667
It may be added that the pillars of the banquetchamber built for the great
festival of Ptolemy Philadelphus, described by Athenaeus, 5.196
represented thyrsi and palm-trees alternately.
(For another example of a thyrsus, see woodcut under VANNUS