A thyrsus /ˈθɜːrsəs/ or thyrsos /ˈθɜːrˌsɒs/ (Ancient Greek: θύρσος) was a wand or staff of giant fennel (Ferula communis) covered with ivy vines and leaves, sometimes wound with taeniae and topped with a pine cone or by a bunch of vine-leaves and grapes or ivy-leaves and berries[1].

Thyrsus staff tied with taenia and topped with a pine cone.


The thyrsus, associated with Dionysus (or Bacchus) and his followers, the Satyrs and Maenads (or Bacchants), is a symbol of prosperity, fertility, hedonism, and pleasure/enjoyment in general.[2]. The thyrsus was tossed in the Bacchic dance:

Pentheus: The thyrsus— in my right hand shall I hold it?

Or thus am I more like a Bacchanal?

Dionysus: In thy right hand, and with thy right foot raise it".[3]

Sometimes the thyrsus was displayed in conjunction with a kantharos wine cup, another symbol of Dionysus, forming a male-and-female combination like that of the royal scepter and orb.[4]


In Greek religion, the staff was carried by the votaries of Dionysus. Euripides wrote that honey dripped from the thyrsos staves that the Bacchic maenads carried.[5] The thyrsus was a sacred instrument at religious rituals and fêtes.

The fabulous history of Bacchus relates that he converted the thyrsi carried by himself and his followers into dangerous weapons, by concealing an iron point in the head of leaves.[6] Hence his thyrsus is called "a spear enveloped in vine-leaves",[7] and its point was thought to incite to madness.[8]


In the Iliad, Diomedes, one of the leading warriors of the Achaeans, mentions the thyrsus while speaking to Glaucus, one of the Lycian commanders in the Trojan army, about Lycurgus, the king of Scyros:

He it was that/drove the nursing women who were in charge/of frenzied Bacchus through the land of Nysa,/and they flung their thyrsi on the ground as/murderous Lycurgus beat them with his ox-/goad. (Iliad, Book VI.132-37)

The thyrsus is explicitly attributed to Dionysus in Euripides's play The Bacchae as part of the costume of the Dionysian cult.

...To raise my Bacchic shout, and clothe all who respond/ In fawnskin habits, and put my thyrsus in their hands–/ The weapon wreathed with ivy-shoots..." Euripides also writes, "There's a brute wildness in the fennel-wands—Reverence it well." (The Bacchae and Other Plays, trans. by Philip Vellacott, Penguin, 1954.)

Plato writes in Phaedo:

I conceive that the founders of the mysteries had a real meaning and were not mere triflers when they intimated in a figure long ago that he who passes unsanctified and uninitiated into the world below will live in a slough, but that he who arrives there after initiation and purification will dwell with the gods. For "many," as they say in the mysteries, "are the thyrsus bearers, but few are the mystics,"--meaning, as I interpret the words, the true philosophers.

In Part II of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Faust, Mephistopheles tries to catch a Lamia, only to find out that she is an illusion:

Well, then, a tall one I will catch.../And now a thyrsus-pole I snatch!/Only a pine-cone as its head. (7775-7777)

Robert Browning mentions the thyrsus in passing in The Bishop Orders His Tomb at St Praxed's Church, as the dying bishop confuses Christian piety with classical extravagance.

Ovid talks about Bacchus carrying a thyrsus and his followers doing the same in his Metamorphoses Book III, which is a retelling of The Bacchae.

The bas-relief in bronze ye promised me,/Those Pans and nymphs ye wot of, and perchance/Some tripod, thrysus, with a vase or so, (56-58)


William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905) - Mailice (1899)

A Bacchant holding a thyrsus: Malice by William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1899)

Ménade relieve romano (Museo del Prado) 04b

Roman relief showing a Maenad holding a thyrsus, 120-140 AD (Prado Museum, Madrid).

John Reinhard Weguelin – Bacchus Triumphant (1882)

Bacchus Triumphant by John Reinhard Weguelin (1882)

Mainade satyros Staatliche Antikensammlungen 2654

A Maenad using her thyrsos to ward off a Satyr, Attic red-figure kylix, circa 480 BC


  1. ^ A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890)
  2. ^ Ioannis Kakridis, Ελληνική μυθολογία Εκδοτική Αθηνών 1987 (in Greek)
  3. ^ The Bacchae
  4. ^ Vinum Nostrum. "Red-figure bell krater". Museo Galileo.
  5. ^ Euripides, Bacchae, 711.
  6. ^ Diodorus. iii. 64, iv. 4; Macrobius. Sat. i. 19.
  7. ^ Ovid. Met. iii, 667
  8. ^ Hor. Carm. ii. 19. 8; Ovid. Amor. iii 1. 23, iii. 15. 17, Trist. iv. 1. 43.; Brunk, Anal. iii. 201; Orph. Hymn. xlv. 5, 1. 8.

See also



External links


Aequiprobabilism, also spelled Æquiprobabilism, is one of several doctrines in moral theology opposed to probabilism.


In Greek mythology, Alpos (Ancient Greek: Ἄλπον) was Sicilian giant son of Gaea (Earth).

Bacchus (Leonardo)

Bacchus, formerly Saint John the Baptist, is a painting in the Musée du Louvre, Paris, France, based on a drawing by the Italian Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci. It is presumed to have been executed by an unknown follower, perhaps in Leonardo's workshop. Sydney J. Freedberg assigns the drawing to Leonardo's second Milan period. Among the Lombard painters who have been suggested as possible authors are Cesare da Sesto, Marco d'Oggiono, Francesco Melzi, and Cesare Bernazzano. The painting shows a male figure with garlanded head and leopard skin, seated in an idyllic landscape. He points with his right hand off to his left, and with his left hand grasps his thyrsus and also points down to earth.

The painting originally depicted John the Baptist. In the late 17th century, between the years 1683 and 1693, it was overpainted and altered to serve as Bacchus.Cassiano dal Pozzo remarked of the painting in its former state, which he saw at Fontainebleau in 1625, that it had neither devotion, decorum nor similitude, the suavely beautiful, youthful and slightly androgynous Giovannino was so at variance with artistic conventions in portraying the Baptist – neither the older ascetic prophet nor the Florentine baby Giovannino, but a type of Leonardo's invention, of a disconcerting, somewhat ambiguous sensuality, familiar in Leonardo's half-length and upward-pointing Saint John the Baptist, also in the Louvre.The overpainting transformed the image of St. John into one of a pagan deity, by converting the long-handled cross-like staff of the Baptist to a Bacchic thyrsus and adding a vine wreath. The fur robe is the legacy of John the Baptist, but has been overpainted with leopard-spots relating, like the wreath, to Bacchus, the Roman god of wine and intoxication.

Ceanothus thyrsiflorus

Ceanothus thyrsiflorus, known as blueblossom or blue blossom ceanothus, is an evergreen shrub in the genus Ceanothus that is endemic to California. The term 'Californian lilac' is also applied to this and other varieties of ceanothus, though it is not closely related to Syringa, the true lilac.

Cult of Dionysus

The Cult of Dionysus is strongly associated with satyrs, centaurs, and sileni, and its characteristic symbols are the bull, the serpent, tigers/leopards, the ivy, and the wine. The Dionysia and Lenaia festivals in Athens were dedicated to Dionysus, as well as the Phallic processions. Initiates worshipped him in the Dionysian Mysteries, which were comparable to and linked with the Orphic Mysteries, and may have influenced Gnosticism. Orpheus was said to have invented the Mysteries of Dionysus.The Cult of Dionysus traces back to at least Mycenaean Greece, since his name is found on Mycenean Linear B tablets as 𐀇𐀺𐀝𐀰, di-wo-nu-so. Dionysus is often shown riding a leopard, wearing a leopard skin, or in a chariot drawn by panthers, and may also be recognized by the thyrsus he carries. Besides the grapevine and its wild barren alter-ego, the toxic ivy plant, both sacred to him, the fig was also his symbol. The pinecone that tipped his thyrsus linked him to Cybele.


Dionysus (; Greek: Διόνυσος Dionysos) is the god of the grape-harvest, winemaking and wine, of fertility, ritual madness, religious ecstasy, and theatre in ancient Greek religion and myth.He is also known as Bacchus ( or ; Greek: Βάκχος, Bakkhos), the name adopted by the Romans and the frenzy he induces is bakkheia. His thyrsus, sometimes wound with ivy and dripping with honey, is both a beneficent wand and a weapon used to destroy those who oppose his cult and the freedoms he represents. As Eleutherios ("the liberator"), his wine, music and ecstatic dance free his followers from self-conscious fear and care, and subvert the oppressive restraints of the powerful. Those who partake of his mysteries are possessed and empowered by the god himself.Dionysus is generally depicted in myth as the son of Zeus and the mortal Semele, although in the Orphic tradition, he was identified as the son of Zeus and Persephone. In the Eleusinian Mysteries he was identified with Iacchus, the son (or, alternately, husband) of Demeter.

His origins are uncertain, and his cults took many forms; some are described by ancient sources as Thracian, others as Greek. In some cults, he arrives from the east, as an Asiatic foreigner; in others, from Ethiopia in the South. Some scholars believe that Dionysus is a syncretism of a local Greek nature deity and a more powerful god from Thrace or Phrygia such as Sabazios or Zalmoxis. He is a god of epiphany, "the god that comes", and his "foreignness" as an arriving outsider-god may be inherent and essential to his cults. He is a major, popular figure of Greek mythology and religion, becoming increasingly important over time, and included in some lists of the twelve Olympians, as the last of their number, and the only god born from a mortal mother. His festivals were the driving force behind the development of Greek theatre.

Wine played an important role in Greek culture, and the cult of Dionysus was the main religious focus for its unrestrained consumption. His worship became firmly established in the seventh century BC. He may have been worshipped as early as c. 1500–1100 BC by Mycenaean Greeks; traces of Dionysian-type cult have also been found in ancient Minoan Crete.The cult of Dionysus is also a "cult of the souls"; his maenads feed the dead through blood-offerings, and he acts as a divine communicant between the living and the dead. He is sometimes categorised as a dying-and-rising god.


Haymon is a mythical figure from Tyrol in form of a giant. It is said that Haymon was the founder of Stift Wilten, a premonstratensian abbey, located in the south of Innsbruck. He is said to have lived between 600 and 900 years ago and to have died in the year 878 A.D. in Wilten. According to a 13th-century sources, Haymon's grave is at the altar of the Collegiate Church in Wilten.

It has been speculated that Haymon was a Bavarian nobleman named Haimo.

Albeit its similar spelling and pronunciation to the ancient Greek name Haimon (Greek: Αἵμων), no relation could be shown.

Leadenhall Street

Leadenhall Street () is a road in London that is about 0.3 miles (500 m) long and links Cornhill and Bishopsgate in the west to St. Botolph Street and Aldgate in the east. It is situated in the City of London, which is the historic nucleus of modern London as well its primary financial district.

The Leadenhall Street Mosaic is a Romano-British mosaic from the first or second century and was discovered during building work on the premises of the East India Company. The design of the floor was recorded, and it was lifted in sections. The surviving pieces were eventually transferred to the British Museum in 1880.The surviving medallion depicts Bacchus astride a tigress; in his left hand Bacchus holds a thyrsus upright with its terminal resting on his left thigh, his right arm rests across the shoulders of the tigress and in his right hand is a tilted white goblet outlined dark grey. On his head he wears a wreath of vine leaves. The tigress’ left paw is held high as if she is striding.It was formerly the start of the A11 road from London to Norwich, but that route now originates on Aldgate High Street, just east of Leadenhall Street. Originally, the A11 started at the Bank of England in the City of London, next to Bank Underground station, and went eastwards along Cornhill and Leadenhall Street, past Aldgate Pump and along Aldgate. Hence leading to the current A11 starting point at Aldgate.The Aldgate Pump is located at the east end of the street. During much of the 18th and 19th centuries its name was synonymous with the East India Company, which had its headquarters there. Today it is perhaps most widely associated with the insurance industry and particularly the Lloyd's insurance market, whose 1928-1958 building fronted onto the street, and whose current building since 1986 also has an entrance on Leadenhall Street.

The nearest London Underground station is Aldgate (Circle and Metropolitan lines), and the closest mainline railway station is Fenchurch Street.


In Greek mythology, maenads (; Ancient Greek: μαϊνάδες [maiˈnades]) were the female followers of Dionysus and the most significant members of the Thiasus, the god's retinue. Their name literally translates as "raving ones". Maenads were known as Bassarids, Bacchae , or Bacchantes in Roman mythology after the penchant of the equivalent Roman god, Bacchus, to wear a bassaris or fox skin.

Often the maenads were portrayed as inspired by Dionysus into a state of ecstatic frenzy through a combination of dancing and intoxication. During these rites, the maenads would dress in fawn skins and carry a thyrsus, a long stick wrapped in ivy or vine leaves and tipped with a pine cone. They would weave ivy-wreaths around their heads or wear a bull helmet in honor of their god, and often handle or wear snakes.These women were mythologized as the "mad women" who were nurses of Dionysus in Nysa. Lycurgus "chased the Nurses of the frenzied Dionysus through the holy hills of Nysa, and the sacred implements dropped to the ground from the hands of one and all, as the murderous Lycurgus struck them down with his ox-goad". They went into the mountains at night and practiced strange rites.According to Plutarch's Life of Alexander, maenads were called Mimallones and Klodones in Macedon, epithets derived from the feminine art of spinning wool. Nevertheless, these warlike parthenoi ("virgins") from the hills, associated with a Dionysios pseudanor "fake male Dionysus", routed an invading enemy. In southern Greece they were described as Bacchae, Bassarides, Thyiades, Potniades, and other epithets.The term maenad has come to be associated with a wide variety of women, supernatural, mythological, and historical, associated with the god Dionysus and his worship.

In Euripides' play The Bacchae, maenads of Thebes murder King Pentheus after he bans the worship of Dionysus. Dionysus, Pentheus' cousin, himself lures Pentheus to the woods, where the maenads tear him apart. His corpse is mutilated by his own mother, Agave, who tears off his head, believing it to be that of a lion. A group of maenads also kill Orpheus.In ceramic art, the frolicking of Maenads and Dionysus is often a theme depicted on kraters, used to mix water and wine. These scenes show the maenads in their frenzy running in the forests, often tearing to pieces any animal they happen to come across.

German philologist Walter Friedrich Otto writes:

The Bacchae of Euripides gives us the most vital picture of the wonderful circumstance in which, as Plato says in the Ion, the god-intoxicated celebrants draw milk and honey from the streams. They strike rocks with the thyrsus, and water gushes forth. They lower the thyrsus to the earth, and a spring of wine bubbles up. If they want milk, they scratch up the ground with their fingers and draw up the milky fluid. Honey trickles down from the thyrsus made of the wood of the ivy, they gird themselves with snakes and give suck to fawns and wolf cubs as if they were infants at the breast. Fire does not burn them. No weapon of iron can wound them, and the snakes harmlessly lick up the sweat from their heated cheeks. Fierce bulls fall to the ground, victims to numberless, tearing female hands, and sturdy trees are torn up by the roots with their combined efforts.

Saint Thyrsus

Saint Thyrsus or Thyrse (Greek: Θύρσος, translit. Thúrsos, literally "thyrsus"; Spanish and Portuguese: Tirso; French: Thyrse; died 251) is venerated as a Christian martyr. He was killed for his faith in Sozopolis (Apollonia), Phrygia, during the persecution of Decius. Leucius (Λεύκιος Leúkios) and Callinicus (Καλλίνικος Kallínīkos) were martyred with him. Tradition states that Thyrsus endured many tortures and was sentenced to be sawn in half. However, the saw did not penetrate as it became so heavy that the executioners could not use it. Saint Leucius, after reproaching the governor, Cumbricius, was hanged, harrowed on his sides, and then beheaded. Callinicus, a pagan priest, was converted after seeing the martyrdom of Thyrsus and was also beheaded.

San Tirso, Oviedo

The Church of Saint Thyrsus (Spanish: Iglesia de San Tirso; or Iglesia de San Tirso el Real de Oviedo) is a Roman Catholic Asturian Romanesque church situated in Oviedo, in Asturias, northern Spain. The church was established in the 790s. Dedicated to Saint Thyrsus, it was built by Tioda, the royal architect of Alfonso II of Asturias. The Great Fire of Oviedo in 1521 and rebuilding in the 18th century removed most of the original church, except for a three-light window.

Sisteron Cathedral

Sisteron Cathedral, now the Church of Notre-Dame-des Pommiers (Cathédrale or Concathédrale Notre-Dame-et-Saint-Thyrse de Sisteron; Église Notre-Dame des Pommiers, or "Our Lady of the Appletrees") is a Roman Catholic church located in Sisteron, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France. It was formerly a cathedral, and is a national monument.

The cathedral, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Thyrsus, was the seat of the Bishops of Sisteron, who had a second seat at Forcalquier Cathedral. The bishopric was abolished under the Concordat of 1801 and merged into the Diocese of Digne.

The Romanesque building, one of the most sizeable religious structures in Provence, was built between 1160 and 1220.

Thyrsus (disambiguation)

A thyrsus is a staff of giant fennel covered with ivy vines and leaves.

Thyrsus may also refer to:

Thyrsus (grasshopper), a genus of grasshopper in the family Tetrigidae

Thyrsus a mythical figure from Austria

Saint Thyrsus (died 251), Christian martyr

Thyrsus (Mage: the Awakening), a Mage character

Thyrsus González de Santalla (1624-1705), Spanish theologian

Thyrsus (giant)

The giant Thyrsus is a mythical figure from Tyrol. He is said to have lived in Innerleithen close to Reith.

Thyrsus is mentioned in the legend of the giant Haymon. According to tradition, Thyrsus was stronger, more dexterous and half a head taller than Haymon.

Thyrsus González de Santalla

Very Rev. Tirso González de Santalla, S.J. (18 January 1624 - 27 October 1705) was a Spanish theologian who was elected, in 1687, the thirteenth Superior General of the Society of Jesus.

Translation (relic)

In Christianity, the translation of relics is the removal of holy objects from one locality to another (usually a higher-status location); usually only the movement of the remains of the saint's body would be treated so formally, with secondary relics such as items of clothing treated with less ceremony. Translations could be accompanied by many acts, including all-night vigils and processions, often involving entire communities.

The solemn translation (in Latin, translatio) of relics is not treated as the outward recognition of sanctity. Rather, miracles confirmed a saint's sanctity, as evinced by the fact that when, in the twelfth century, the Papacy attempted to make sanctification an official process; many collections of miracles were written in the hope of providing proof of the saint-in-question's status. In the early Middle Ages, however, solemn translation marked the moment at which, the saint's miracles having been recognized, the relic was moved by a bishop or abbot to a prominent position within the church. Local veneration was then permitted. This process is known as local canonization.The date of a translation of a saint's relics was celebrated as a feast day in its own right. For example, on January 27 is celebrated the translation of the relics of St. John Chrysostom from the Armenian village of Comana (where he died in exile in 407) to Constantinople. The most commonly celebrated feast days, however, are the dies natales (the day on which the saint died, not the modern idea of birthday).

Relics sometimes travelled very far. The relics of Saint Thyrsus at Sozopolis, Pisidia, in Asia Minor, were brought to Constantinople and then to Spain. His cult became popular in the Iberian Peninsula, where he is known as San Tirso or Santo Tirso. Some of his relics were brought to France: Thyrsus is thus the titular saint of the cathedral of Sisteron in the Basses Alpes, the Cathédrale Notre Dame et Saint Thyrse. Thyrsus is thus the patron saint of Sisteron. Liborius of Le Mans became patron saint of Paderborn, in Germany, after his relics were transferred there in 836.

Tyrolean shale oil

Tyrolean shale oil is a black, strong-smelling oil found in the stones of Karwendel Mountains, a mountain range of the Northern Limestone Alps in Austria and Germany.

It is also known as Ichthyol. According to legend, it is the blood of the giant Thyrsus; hence, it is also called Thyrsenblut or Dirschenblut. From the "Thyrsenblut" the healing Tyrolean shale oil is extracted. Shale oil reserves are located in the oil shale at Seefeld in Bächen Valley plate and close to Achen Lake. The oil-bearing zones lie at an angle of 51 degrees.


Vegaquemada is a municipality located in the province of León, Castile and León, Spain. According to the 2004 census (INE), the municipality has a population of 488 inhabitants.

Classical religious forms
Mystery religions
and sacred mysteries
Main beliefs
Texts/epic poems/odes
Rites and practices
Sacred places
Mythical beings
Mythical tribes
Mythical realms
Mythological wars
Mythological and
religious objects
Mythological powers
Storage containers,
cups, vases
Musical Instruments
Modern offshoot religions
Modern popular culture

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.