Bácchus and Dionysus on Television and Movies
Bacchus on Xena the Warrior Princess
Extract courtesy of Caina Q. Fuller's web site Xena.com
Let's have a brief history lesson on the Greek god of wine, shall we? It never hurts to learn something does it?
Bacchus (This is his Roman name. His Greek name was Dionysus or Liber) was the god and the creator of wine, and even to this day he is associated with vineyards and wine cellars. Many companies name or affiliate their wine businesses with this Greek deity. He was the son of Zeus and Semele, and he represents more than the drink itself. To the Greeks (ancient or otherwise) he is the embodiment of the intoxicating power of alcohol over mankind's life.
Bacchus was viewed in ancient times as a good deity. A god whose influence can be every bit as beneficial to people as it could be destructive or harmful. He is said by the ancient Greeks to be the embodiment of ecstasy and fertility.
In Greek Mythology Hera discovered that Semele was pregnant with Zeus' child and she convinced the woman to ask Zeus to expose himself in all his glory. When she saw him she was burned to death, but Hermes rescued the child and sewed him to Zeus' thigh to finish developing. Once he was full term, Hermes then delivered the child, but the Titans (under Hera's orders) literally ripped the baby to shreds. Rhea (Zeus' mother) took pity on Bacchus and made him whole again.
From there she gave him to a royal couple to be raised, but Hera recognized him again. To save him from her, Zeus turned Bacchus into a ram. Once people began to worship him more and more often, Hestia, the Virgin goddess gave her throne on Olympus to him. This angered many women, because before Olympus had an equal amount of male/female gods, so women were equally represented on Olympus. Now the women were outnumbered, so that meant women's rights would suffer.
Bacchus had a son named Priapus with Aphrodite, but Hera disfigured the child because she disapproved of Aphrodite's promiscuous lifestyle. From there Bacchus married Ariadne, who'd been abandoned on the island of Naxos by Theseus. The Bacchanalia (seen in the Season Five episode "Livia" of Xena), was a celebration where the attendees got drunk from wine and then participated in lewd practices with one another.
In the Xenaverse, however, Bacchus was not so noble. Xena, Gabrielle and Joxer had to join up with Orpheus to put Bacchus to sleep because he was an evil god who was turning innocent girls into wolf-like creatures, which was completely off, sorry to say, because Bacchus was associated with the ram, not he wolf, or vampires. It would seem that Xena's version of history is severely different from the Greek's mythological versions huh?