• The Greek god of fertility, wine, and ecstasy, also calledBacchus or Iacchus, whose worship gave rise to the earliestform of Greek drama. According to Aristotle, the cult reached Greecefrom the Near East, though this has been disputed.

    The rites of Dionysus were characterized by wild music, ecstaticdancing, and uninhibited sexuality. The antics of the god's attendantspossibly mark the beginning of the satyr-play, while thewearing of symbolic phalluses survived as a tradition of Greek comedy.The dithyramb, a hymn to the god sung by a chorus of 50 actorsat the Dionysia, provides perhaps the strongest direct linkbetween the rites of Dionysus and the drama proper. see alsoArtists of Dionysus.