Wine and wine culture has existed on this earth since the beginning of time. There are references to wine throughout the bible, (even Jesus was turning water into wine in hopes of a good time), wine kept Caesar’s troops healthy and happy throughout his notorious battles, and wine had influences in both Roman and Greek mythology. Wine was one of the first creations of the ancient Egyptians and is referenced in history books in cultures across the world in every inch of time. Wine has shaped us all.
When visiting the Fine Arts Museum in Boston, Massachusetts we were elated to learn about Dionysus, the god of wine, winemaking, fertility and the patron of the arts. Dionysus is “So Cabonnay”. Dionysus brought joy and the ultimate pleasure through his cultivation of wine. However, he also could bring brutal and blinding rage to his followers - a representation of over indulging with alcohol. Dionysus became one of the most worshiped and idolized of the Greek gods. He built his cult of followers and was worshipped in the darkness of the woods. In the woods his followers were able to become ravenous with ecstasy, dancing among the trees, bubbling with the sweet nectar of his wine. He was not just a god to be worshipped upon, many felt like a god themselves in the presence of Dionysus.
Dionysus is associated with rebirth, as he brought his mortal mother Semele back to Mount Olympus from the underworld. As the son of Zeus he was the only god with a mortal parent. He was sent away by his father to be raised by the nymphs of the mountains so he could not be harmed. Before he was lead away by his father, Hera had sent the Titans to kill him. Per Hera's intentions the Titans tore Dionysus limb from limb and only by the good graces of his mother Rhea (Mother Earth) he was brought back to life. Wine culture symbolizes the life, death and rebirth of the god of wine. Each season the vines that will bear the fruit for the wine must be cut back and trimmed where they will lie dormant and dead until Spring arrives and life returns to their roots. A festival honoring the God of Wine is the most prestigious and important event of the year. As the spring breathed new life to the fruits of Dionysus, celebrations would erupt across the cities, and participants of these events were regarded as sacred servants of the God of Wine.
The god of the vine is represented as a youthful, sensual male, womanly in nature, and beautiful. Other representations of Dionysus is of a full grown adult male with a beard, dressed in a robe. He carries a long fennel staff topped with a pinecone. He is said to be born of fire and nursed by the rain, as the life of a grape being turned to wine. He was a god with a kind and loving nature towards human beings who roamed the earth. Generally a happy god but during the months of winter he was said to meander the earth with a distinguished fire.
As this spring comes to an end, grapes are maturing and growing, and the summer months are in full flourish; know that the God of Wine is dancing among the stars in preparation of the harvest.