The Daughters of Minyas

And in Orchomenus, in Boeotia, they did not want to recognize the god Dionysus. When the priest of Dionysus (Bacchus) appeared in Orchomenus and called on all the girls and women to go to the forests and mountains in merry mourning in honor of the god of wine, the three daughters of King Minyas refused to go to the feast: they did not want to recognize Dionysus for god. All the women of Orchomenus went out of the city into the shady forests and there sang and danced to celebrate the great god.
Decorated with ivy, with sawdust in their hands, they ran and shouted loudly like menades in the woods and glorified Dionysus. And the daughters of the king of Orchomenus sat at home and quietly weaved and weaved; they did not even want to hear about the god Dionysus.

In the evening, the sun set, and the king’s daughters still did not give up their work, hurrying to finish it at all costs. Suddenly a miracle happened before their eyes. Sounds of timpani and flutes spread in the palace, the threads of their yarn turned into vine sticks and heavy bunches hung on them. Their looms turned green: they were densely wrapped in ivy. The fragrance of myrtle and flowers spread everywhere.

The Daughters of Minyas, Antonio Fantuzzi (Italian, active France, 1537–45)

The king’s daughters marveled at this miracle. Unexpectedly, the ominous light of torches shone throughout the palace, already enveloped in the evening twilight. There was a roar of wild beasts. Lions, panthers, lynxes and bears appeared in all the rooms of the palace. With a terrible howl they ran around the palace and their eyes shone fiercely. Terrified, the king’s daughters struggled to hide in the farthest, darkest rooms of the palace, so as not to see the glow of the torches and hear the roar of the beasts.

But everything was in vain, they could not hide anywhere. Dionysus‘ punishment did not end there. The bodies of the king’s daughters began to shrink, covered with dark mouse fur, instead of their hands grew wings with a thin zipper – they turned into bats. Since then, they have been hiding from daylight in dark, damp ruins and caves. This is how Dionysus punished them.

The Tyrrhenian Pirates

Dionysus also punished the Tyrrhenian pirates, but not so much because they did not recognize him as a god, but because of the evil they wanted to do to him as a mere mortal.

One time young Dionysus was standing on the shore of the azure sea. The sea breeze played fondly with his dark curls and barely moved the folds of the purple cloak that descended from the slender shoulders of the young god. Not far from the sea, a ship appeared; it was fast approaching the shore. When the ship was near, the sailors saw – and they were Tyrrhenian pirates – the beautiful young man on the desert beach. They quickly dropped anchor, went ashore, grabbed Dionysus and took him to their ship. The robbers had no idea that they had captured a god. They rejoiced that such tresure had fallen into their hands. They were sure that they would get a lot of gold for such a beautiful young man when they sold him as a slave. When they reached their ship, the robbers wanted to chain Dionysus in heavy chains, but the chains came off the young god’s arms and legs. And he sat and watched the robbers with a calm smile. When the helmsman saw that the chains were not in the hands of a young man, he said to his comrades in fear:

“Idiots! What are we doing! Do we want to chain a god? Look, even our ship can barely hold it! Isn’t he Zeus himself, isn’t he the silver-arched Apollo or the earthquaker Poseidon? No, he doesn’t look like a mortal! He is one of the gods who live on the bright Olympus. Release him as soon as possible, take him ashore or he can summon the stormy winds and cast a terrible storm in the sea!”

But the captain replied viciously to the wise helmsman:
“Despicable man! See the wind is traveling. Our ship will quickly sail on the waves of the boundless sea. And we will take care of the young man later. We will sail to Egypt or Cyprus, or to the far side of the Hyperboreans, and sell him there; let this young man look for his friends and brothers there. No, the gods themselves sent it to us!”

The pirates calmly lifted the ship’s sail and the ship went out to sea. Suddenly, a miracle happened: fragrant wine began to flow on the ship and the whole air was filled with fragrance. The pirates were stunned. But behold, vines with heavy bunches of greenery grew green on the ships’ sails; dark green ivy enveloped the mast; wonderful fruits appeared everywhere; the wedges on which the oars rested were wrapped in garlands of flowers. When the priates saw all this, they began to beg the wise helmsman to drive ashore sooner. But it was too late! The young man turned into a lion and stood on the deck with a terrible roar, his eyes gleaming fiercely. A furry bear appeared on the deck of the ship; she gritted her huge mouth terribly. Terrified, the robbers rushed to the stern and gathered around the helmsman. With a huge leap, the lion lunged at the captain and tore him apart. Losing hope of salvation, the robbers one by one threw themselves into the waves, and Dionysus turned them into dolphins. He spared the helmsman. Taking his previous image and smiling kindly, Dionysus said to the helmsman:

“Do not be afraid! I loved you! I am Dionysus, son of Zeus and Cadmus’ daughter Semela.”

“The Daughters of Minyas – according to “Metamorphoses”, “The Tyrrhenian Pirates” – exhibited one Homer’s anthem and according to “Metamorphoses”; on the work of A. Kun

Dionysus transforms the pirates, Bardo National Museum, Tunis