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[3] But Zeus loved Semele and bedded with her unknown to Hera.1 Now Zeus had agreed to do for her whatever she asked, and deceived by Hera she asked that he would come to her as he came when he was wooing Hera. Unable to refuse, Zeus came to her bridal chamber in a chariot, with lightnings and thunderings, and launched a thunderbolt. But Semele expired of fright, and Zeus, snatching the sixth-month abortive child2 from the fire, sewed it in his thigh. On the death of Semele the other daughters of Cadmus spread a report that Semele had bedded with a mortal man, and had falsely accused Zeus, and that therefore she had been blasted by thunder. But at the proper time Zeus undid the stitches and gave birth to Dionysus, and entrusted him to Hermes. And he conveyed him to Ino and Athamas, and persuaded them to rear him as a girl.3 But Hera indignantly drove them mad, and Athamas hunted his elder son Learchus as a deer and killed him,4 and Ino threw Melicertes into a boiling cauldron,5 then carrying it with the dead child she sprang into the deep. And she herself is called Leucothea, and the boy is called Palaemon, such being the names they get from sailors; for they succour storm-tossed mariners.6 And the Isthmian games were instituted by Sisyphus in honor of Melicertes.7 But Zeus eluded the wrath of Hera by turning Dionysus into a kid,8 and Hermes took him and brought him to the nymphs who dwelt at Nysa in Asia, whom Zeus afterwards changed into stars and named them the Hyades.9


1 For the loves of Zeus and Semele and the birth of Dionysus, see Hes. Th. 940-942; Eur. Ba. 1ff.; Eur. Ba. 242ff.; Eur. Ba. 286ff.; Diod. 4.2.2ff.; Diod. 5.52.2; Philostratus, Im. i.13; Paus. 3.24.3; Paus. 9.5.2; Scholiast on Hom. Il. xiv.325 (who copies Apollodorus without mentioning him); Scholiast on Pind. O. 2.25(44); Lucian, Dial. Deorum ix.; Nonnus and Nicetas, in Westermann's Mythographi Graeci, Appendix Narrationum, lxxi. p. 385; Ov. Met. 3.259ff.; Hyginus, Fab. 167, 179; Fulgentius, Mytholog. ii.15; Lactantius Placidus on Statius, Theb. i.12; Scriptores rerum mythicarum Latini, ed. Bode, i. pp. 38ff., 102 (First Vatican Mythographer 120; Second Vatican Mythographer 79).

2 So the infant Dionysus is described by the Scholiast on Hom. Il. xiv.325, who however may be copying Apollodorus, though he refers to the Bacchae of Euripides. But Lucian, Dial. Deorum. ix.2 and Nonnus, in Westermann's Mythographi Graeci, p. 385, speak of the infant as a seventh-month child at birth.

3 So Achilles is said to have been dressed in his youth as a girl at the court of Lycomedes, king of Scyros. See below, Apollod. 3.13.8 note. These traditions may embody reminiscences of an old custom of dressing boys as girls in order to avert the evil eye. See “Frazer, The Youth of Achilles,” The Classical Review, vii. (1893), pp. 292.ff., and Frazer, note on Paus. i.22.6.

4 Compare Paus. 1.44.7; Paus. 9.34.7; Tzetzes, Scholiast on Lycophron 229; Scholiast on Hom. Od. v.334; Hyginus, Fab. 2, 4; Ovid, Fasti vi.489ff.; Ov. Met. 4.512ff.; Lactantius Placidus on Statius, Theb. i.12; Serv. Verg. A. 5.241; Scriptores rerum mythicarum Latini, ed. Bode, i. p. 102 (Second Vatican Mythographer 79).

5 Compare Tzetzes, Scholiast on Lycophron 229; Scholiast on Pind. I., Arg. p. 514, ed. Boeckh.

6 On Ino and Melicertes see also Paus. 1.42.6, Paus. 1.44.7ff., Paus. 2.1.3, Paus. 4.34.4; Zenobius, Cent. iv.38; Tzetzes, Scholiast on Lycophron 107, 229-231; Scholiast on Hom. Il. viii.86, Od. v.334; Scholiast on Eur. Med. 1284; Hyginus, Fab. 2, 4; Ov. Met. 4.519-542; Ovid, Fasti vi.491ff.; Serv. Verg. A. 5.241; Lactantius Placidus on Statius, Theb. i.12; Scriptores rerum mythicarum Latini, ed. Bode, i. p. 102 (Second Vatican Mythographer 79).

7 On the foundation of the Isthmian games in honour of Melicertes, see Paus. 1.44.8, Paus. 2.1.3; Scholiasts on Pind. I., Arg. pp. 514, 515, ed. Boeckh; Scholiasts on Eur. Med. 1284; Clement of Alexandria, Protrept. ii.34, p. 29, ed. Potter; Zenobius, Cent. iv.38; Tzetzes, Scholiast on Lycophron 107, 229-231; Hyginus, Fab. 2.

8 Dionysus bore the title of Kid. See Hesychius, s.v. Ἔριφος διόνυσος; Stephanus Byzantius, s.v. Ἀκρώρεια. When the gods fled into Egypt to escape the fury of Typhon, Dionysus is said to have been turned into a goat. See Ant. Lib. 28; Ov. Met. 5.39; Scriptores rerum mythicarum Latini, ed. Bode, i. p. 29 (First Vatican Mythographer 86). As a god of fertility, Dionysus appears to have been conceived as embodied, now in the form of a goat, now in the form of a bull; and his worshippers accordingly entered into communion with him by rending and devouring live goats and bulls. See Spirits of the Corn and of the Wild, i.12ff., ii.1ff. The goat was the victim regularly sacrificed in the rites of Dionysus, because the animal injured the vine by gnawing it; but the reason thus alleged for the sacrifice may have been a later interpretation. See Verg. G. 2.380-384, who refers the origin both of tragedy and of comedy to these sacrifices of goats in honour of the wine-god. Compare Varro, Re. Rust. i.2.19; Ovid, Fasti i.353ff.; Cornutus, Theologiae Graecae Compendium 30; Serv. Verg. A. 3.118.

9 Apollodorus seems here to be following Pherecydes, who related how the infant Dionysus was nursed by the Hyades. See the Scholiast on Hom. Il. xviii.486; Hyginus, Ast. ii.21; Scholiast on Germanicus, Aratea (in Martianus Capella, ed. Fr. Eyssenhardt, p. 396); Fragmenta Historicorum Graecorum, ed. C. Müller, i.84. Frag. 46. Nothing could be more appropriate than that the god of the vine should be nursed by the nymphs of the rain. According to Diod. 3.59.2, Diod. 3.64.5, Diod. 3.65.7, Diod. 3.66.3, Nysa, the place where the nymphs reared Dionysus, was in Arabia, which is certainly not a rainy country; but he admits (Diod. 3.66.4, Diod. 3.67.5) that others placed Nysa in Africa, or, as he calls it, Libya, away in the west beside the great ocean. Herodotus speaks of Nysa as “in Ethiopia, above Egypt” (Hdt. 2.146), and he mentions “the Ethiopians who dwell about sacred Nysa and hold the festivals in honor of Dionysus” ( Hdt. 3.97). But in fact Nysa was sought by the ancients in many different and distant lands and was probably mythical, perhaps invented to explain the name of Dionysus. See Stephanus Byzantius and Hesychius, s.v. Νύσα; A. Wiedemann on Herodotus, ii.146; T. W. Allen and E. E. Sikes on HH to Dion. i.8, p. 4.

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