Summarize the story of Dionysus’ double birth. Why does myth present this particular god as being twice-born, first from Semele’s womb and then from the body of Zeus? How is this double birth thematically related to the Orphic myth that describes the death and rebirth of Dionysus (as Zagreus)?
Dionysus’ double birth can be described in many ways. Hera, jealous of how Zeus was making babies with other women, decided to disguise herself as a harmless old lady. Once disguised, she kept persuaded Semele that her lover was an ogre and to ask her lover to show her his true form. Semele then convinces Zeus to promise her whatever she asks. She then insists on Zeus showing her his true form. Zeus knowing that transforming himself into a lightning bolt would kill her, tried everything to persuade her not to make him transform. Once he transformed himself, he killed Semele and as her corpse was burning, Zeus rescued the embryo in which Dionysus was in and sowed it on his right thigh. So before Zeus rescued Dionysus from the fire, he was prematurely born. Later, Zeus opened his thigh and Dionysus was born again.
I think that myth portrays Dionysus as twice born in particular because not only was he in his mother’s womb when she died, but she was also on fire because Zeus burned her up. When Zeus saved his life, he pretty much took life that was already dead into his own body, his right thigh to be specific, and then gave him life. Dionysus was thus born twice.Once by his mother when she died, and second by Zeus and his power to give life.
The Orphic myth can be related in many ways to the double birth of Dionysus. Being born with the name of Zagreus by the queen of Hades, Persephone, and Zeus he was placed as an infant on the throne to rule the universe. Unfortunately, the Titans attacked and ate the poor child. Zeus, then blasted the Titans to ashes from which humanity was created. The heart of Dionysus was rescued and made into a special potion that would make the...