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The god of wine and gaiety, Dionysos was the son of Zeus and Semele, a daughter of King Kadmos of Thebes, and his birth was frowned upon by Hera, who, angry at this rival to her husband's affections, disguised herself and proceeded to Thebes, where she met and falsely befriended Semele, encouraging her to ask that Zeus should appear before her (Semele) in all his great majesty as god of thunder. On Hera's return to Olympus, Zeus, swearing to grant Semele's request, whatever it may be, had to hold to his oath, and therefore appeared as a display of thunder and lightning to Semele, a display which killed her. As she died, Semele gave birth to Dionysos, who of course died, but whom Zeus restored to life, and fearing his wife's reprisals, charged Hermes to convey the child to Nysa, where Silenos and the nymphs brought up the infant. Dionysos' formative years were spent in innocence in the company of the nymphs, satyrs, sileni, herdsmen and vine-tenders of Nysa.

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