Roman Dionysos

             Dionysos was the most widely worshipped and popular god in ancient Greece.

             In Greek mythology Dionysos had two sides. On one side he was the god of nature, vegetation, abundance, and growth. On the other he was the god of wine and ecstatic drunkenness. Dionysos was also known as a lawgiver and a god of emotionally intense tragic art. Dionysos wore a grape or ivy wreathe, and in most cases he is seen holding the Kantheros, a two-handled wine cup, and the Thyrsus, his wand.1 The Thyrsus has a pine- cone on top of it, which represents Dionysos's naturalistic and wild side. A leopard also accompanies him in most Greek mythology, and also represents the wild and dangerous side of Dionysos. Dionysos is wild and scraggly at first, with long hair and a beard; later he became young and clean-shaven .In later Roman myth and art Dionysos is again bearded, but now is an older figure, calm and collected. Also he has no kantheros, no thrysus, and no leopard by his side. Although Roman art presents Dionysos this calm way, Roman Mythology does not describe him as th!.

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             The reason this discrepancy between Roman and Greek myths is accepted is because the worship of Roman Gods was much different than that of ancient Greece. Since the object of Roman worship was to secure the cooperation of the deities, an elaborate system of rites and customs grew up. This Roman worship was based on a diversity of original cults. Rome was also outstanding for tolerating different religions and beliefs- so long as they did not threaten state control.1 This allowed for much change to take place through out all of Rome, especially in worship of controversial religious ideas.

             Roman art was closely modeled on Hellenistic Greek art. Many great works of Greek sculpture representing the Gods have survived only as Roman copies. Early Roman representations of the gods tended to stress the fact that they were super- humans with the best of human physical characteristics.

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