:"Zagreus is also the name of a genus of ladybird beetle. See Zagreus for more information."In
Greek mythology, Zagreus was identified with the god Dionysusand was worshipped by followers of Orphism who believed him to be an ancient god of the Minoans.
According to the followers of Orphism,
Zeushad lain with Persephone, daughter of Zeus and Demeter in Orphism, [cite book |last=Powell|first=Barry|authorlink=Barry B. Powell|year=2007|title=Classical Myth, Fifth Edition|chapter=Chapter 11: Myths of Death] in the form of a snake. The result of their union was Zagreus. Zeus had intended Zagreus to be his heir, but a jealous Herapersuaded the Titansto kill the child.
The Titans distracted Zagreus with toys, then carried him away and tore Zagreus to pieces. When the Titans were finished, nothing was left but Zagreus' heart, which Athena rescued and gave to Zeus. From the still-beating heart, Zeus made the body of the mortal
Semele. The child was eventually born again, despite Hera's intervention. Some accounts say that he was reassembled and resurrected by Demeter; others, that Zeus fed his heart to Semelein a drink, making her pregnant with Dionysus.
Zeus then turned the Titans to ashes with his thunderbolt, and from the ashes came humankind. [cite book |last=Campbell |first=Lewis |authorlink=Lewis Campbell |year=1898 |title=Religion in Greek Literature |chapter=Chapter 11: The Mysteries |chapterurl=http://www.giffordlectures.org/Browse.asp?PubID=TPRIGL&Volume=0&Issue=0&ArticleID=13] The ashes explained the mix of good and evil in humans, the story goes, for humans possessed both a trace of divinity as well as the Titans' maliciousness.
The Orphics believed in the transmigration of souls and that a person was able to remove their intrinsic evilness by living three virtuous lives. Afterwards, they would dwell in
In Orphic tradition,
Persephonewas the mother of Zagreus ( Dionysus) by Zeus; but in the Iliad, Persephone's consort Hadesis called Zeus Katachthonios, "Underground Zeus". It was by Zeus' decree that Hades abducted Persephone, suggesting that their roles are sometimes interchangeable. Both Zeusand Poseidonwere consorts of Demeter. "Underworld Zeus" is linked with Demeterby Hesiod. It is this that has made many suggest that Zagreus may be a son of Persephonewith her husband Hades.
In popular culture
Big Finish Productions' "Doctor Who" audio dramas, Zagreus is a nursery rhymevillain on Gallifrey. According to the legendary "Book of Zagreus" he is a creature of anti-time whose domain is at the end of the universe, and who is being fought by Rassilonfor eternity. "Zagreus" is also the title of an audio drama concerning this character.
Wyndham Lewis' 1930 satirical novel " The Apes of God", there is a character named Horace Zagreus. A 60-something albino observer of the art world critically described in the novel, he serves as mentor of the hapless protagonist, Daniel Boleyn. Later, Zagreus drops Boleyn in favor of another young protegé, Archie Margolin, before finally marrying the wealthy, elderly Lady Fredigonde, generally considered to be a parody of Dame Edith Sitwell. Horace Zagreus himself is thought by some to be a caricature of Aleister Crowleyor a similar figure of the period.
*March, J., Cassell's Dictionary Of Classical Mythology, London, 1999. ISBN 0-304-35161-X
* [http://www.theoi.com/Georgikos/Zagreus.html Article for Zagreus at the Theoi Project]
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