Symbol of fertility, prosperity, and madness.

The thyrsus was the rod of Dionysus, the Roman god of drink and pleasure. The thyrsus symbol is a pinecone on top of a fennel stalk with a headband tied to the shaft of the stalk. The thyrsus could turn water into wine when used by Dionysus. The pinecone is a symbol of immortality and the thyrsus was also used by Maenads.

Dionysus used the thyrsus to turn water into wine, however, his thyrsus had a spear tip in the pinecone. The tip of the thyrsus produced madness. Dionysus thyrsus is referred to as a spear enveloped in vine leaves.

The Maenads were the female followers of Dionysus. They also carried thyrsi and used them as weapons. There are paintings showing Maenads pointing their thyrsi at satyrs, drunken woodland nymphs, who were trying to lay with them.

Thyrsus

In modern times the thyrsus is found in Faust by Goethe. The main character tries to catch a lambia but ends up holding a thyrsus. Ovid in Metamorphoses Book III mentions Baccus and his followers yielding thyrsi. In the poem The Bishop Orders his Tomb at St. Praxed’s Church by Browning, a thyrsus is mentioned. In the play, The Bacchae by Euripides, the main character Agave ends up accidentally killing her son and impaling his head on Dionysus’ thyrsus. The thyrsus symbol can be found as a symbol for publishers, artists, tattoos, and wine stores.

Thyrsus

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