The youthful, beautiful, but effeminate god of wine. He is also called both by Greeks and Romans Bacchus (Βάκχος), that is, the noisy or riotous god, which was originally a mere epithet or surname of Dionysus, but does not occur till after the time of Herodotus.
According to the common tradition, Dionysus was the son of Zeus and Semele, the daughter of Cadmus of Thebes; whereas others describe him as a son of Zeus by Demeter, Io, Dione, or Arge. Diodorus further mentions a tradition, according to which he was a son of Ammon and Amalthea and that Ammon, from fear of Rhea, carried the child to a cave in the neighborhood of Mount Nysa, in a lonely island formed by the river Triton. Ammon there entrusted the child to Nysa, the daughter of Aristaeus, and Athena likewise undertook to protect the boy. Others again represent him as a son of Zeus by Persephone or Iris, or describe him simply as a son of Lethe, or of Indus.