"My point is you heroes never change. You accuse us gods of being vain. You should look at yourselves. You take what you want, use whoever you have to, and then you betray everyone around you. So you'll excuse me if I have no love for heroes. They are a selfish, ungrateful lot."
-Dionysus to Percy about Heroes
Dionysus is the Greek god of grape-harvest, wine, madness, parties, and ecstasy as well as theater. He is also known as Mr. D, the camp director of Camp Half-Blood. He was placed as the director by his father Zeus as punishment for chasing after an off-limits nymph. After the decree that Olympus would be closed and that gods would have no contact with their demigod child, he was recalled to Olympus. His Roman counterpart is Bacchus.
Dionysus was often called the 'twice born' because of the two myths around his birth. The most common is that his mother was a mortal woman named Semele, who was a daughter of the King of Thebes, and his father was Zeus. This makes him the only Olympian to have a mortal parent, and according to some traditions the only one to have been born a demigod. As with most of Zeus' acts of infidelity, Hera became jealous when she found out that Semele was pregnant with Zeus' child. She disguised herself as a nurse (or old crone in some stories) and made Semele begin to doubt that it was truly Zeus. While in disguise; Hera convinced Semele to ask Zeus to reveal his true form and, to make sure that he would do it, to swear on the River Styx, which is sacred to the Greek Gods and an unbreakable oath. Zeus tried to get around the promise, but in the end swore on the River Styx, and Semele asked to see his true form. Unable to go back on the promise, he did so, and she was burned to ashes. Zeus managed to save the infant, sewing him into his thigh until he was born a few months later as a full grown baby on Mount Pramnos in Ikaria. He was born a demigod, like Hercules and Perseus.
In his early life Zeus sent Dionysus off with Hermes. Again here, there are two versions of the story. In one version, Hermes took Dionysus to King Athamas and his wife Ino, who was Dionysus' Aunt. Hermes had them raise Dionysus as a girl to hide him from Hera's scorn. The second story is that the boy was taken to the rain nymphs of Nysa. They raised him through infancy and childhood, and in reward for their care, Zeus placed them as the Hyades in the stars. When he grew up, he discovered the vine, and extracted the juice. He was struck with madness by Hera at this point, and ended up wandering various parts of the world. Rhea cured him, and taught him her religious rites, and he wandered through Asia teaching about cultivating the vine.
He was very handsome as a young man, eager for challenges. Dionysus later said he was good at nothing in his human life but cultivating wine. The people in his village mocked him, not knowing of his heritage, his father, or knowing his future, and what he would one day become. Later, when Dionysus was invited to Mount Olympus, it was Hestia who graciously offered him her golden chair to prevent any conflict or embarrassment. Hestia was a goddess known for her warmth and kindness. Dionysus then rescued his mother from Hades, and she became a goddess on Mount Olympus, with the new name Thyone, presiding over the frenzy inspired by her son Dionysus. When Theseus abandoned Ariadne sleeping on Naxos, Dionysus found and married her. When she died, he went to the Underworld and rescued her, taking her up to Mount Olympus, where he made her immortal. He was disguised as a mortal on the seashore once, and a few sailors spotted him. They thought he was a prince, and tried to kidnap him and hold him for ransom or to sell into slavery. They tried to tie his hands behind his back, but no ropes would hold him to the pole. Some ideas are that the material they were made of then was similar to the vines, and would refuse to hold him. At this point Dionysus turned into a lion and let a bear loose on board. It killed those it came in contact with, and those who jumped off the ship were turned into dolphins as an act of mercy. The only one to survive was the helmsman Acoetes, who had recognized him as a god, and tried to stop his comrades from the beginning.
After chasing after an off-limits wood nymph twice, Zeus punished him by putting him in charge of Camp Half-Blood for 100 years. During this time, he is not allowed to drink wine (so instead drinks several liters of Diet Coke) or grow grapes for wine, even though he does use his powers on other plants such as strawberries which helps with Camp Half Blood's expenses as their cover name is Delphi Strawberry Service. It is hinted that the first time he did use his powers on grape vines, his punishment caused the Prohibition era. After The Last Olympian, Zeus decides to make Dionysus work at Camp Half-Blood for only fifty more years, as a reward for his good behavior and bravery. He appears to have the fewest demigod children out of all the gods, not including the Big Three or the virgin goddesses - only having two sons, his twins, Pollux & Castor - possibly due to his hatred of heroes or his strong dedication to his immortal wife Ariadne on Olympus. He does care for his sons, as proven in The Battle of the Labyrinth and in The Last Olympian when he is shown being depressed after the death of his son, Castor, and afterwards becomes discreetly protective of his only remaining child, Pollux.
Dionysus has a chubby face, a red nose and curly hair so black, it looks purple. He normally has watery, blue, bloodshot eyes from drinking. He is usually described as wearing tiger-striped (or leopard-spot) Hawaiian shirts and purple running shoes (even though he has never run once in his immortal life). He is described by Percy as a cherub who had grown up in a trailer park. Anyone can tell he's no stranger to wine just by looking at him.
At first glance, Dionysus seems like a rather displeasing god. He enjoys calling people by incorrect names, especially Percy Jackson, whom he often calls "Peter Johnson" and "Perry Johanssen". He sometimes does this with campers who have been at camp for a long time, such as Annabeth Chase who he calls "Annie Bell" right after she was captured. He often does this to make the campers think that he cares so little for them, that he will make no effort to remember their names. He even refuses to acknowledge when he calls them by their correct names. This is also because he hates almost all heroes. His hatred for heroes stems back to how Theseus abandoned Ariadne, and thus is why he has the fewest shown demigod children among the major gods. Dionysus doesn't like to be known as 'the wine dude". The first time is when Nico called him that after the orientation video. Dionysus is not pleased but tones down his anger when Nico starts complimenting him in his excitement. The second time this happens is when Dionysus catches Percy as he chases after Zoe, Thalia, Grover and Bianca. Blackjack yells "God alert, it's the wine dude" and Dionysus becomes exasperated and threatens to stick the next person (or horse) who calls him that in a bottle of Merlot. He can also be quite unforgivable, as Chiron claimed that Dionysus viciously punished Seymor's previous owner for what he did to the animal, to the point that Seymor's current status (a discorporial head) is much better than the mortal's own.
However, despite the impression he tries to give, deep down, Dionysus cares about his campers quite a bit. For example, while Dionysus stresses the fact that he cares little for the campers (except his own sons, Castor and Pollux) he dislikes Tantalus due to his demeaning attitude and for treating the campers badly (even though he himself is generally disrespectful towards them), he finds humor in his attempts to grab food and is also happy to send him back to the Fields of Punishment. He is no kinder to Chiron, but never threatens him like he threatens the campers, and even admits he misses him during Chiron's exile from Camp Half-Blood (as he was fired by the gods).
Dionysus is also willing to send help using his godly powers when a camper is in danger and desperately needs help. For example, in The Titan's Curse, when the manticore was attacking Percy Jackson, Thalia, and their friends, he used grape vines to kill the manticore, Dr. Thorn, and caused several to descend into madness, saving Percy's life. Also, despite his rude demeanor, he tells Percy he is one of the nicest gods, as he had cured Chris Rodriguez from his madness when he came back out of the Labyrinth, in spite of having previously betrayed them. Both actions proved that he's much more selfless than he appears to be. In stark contrast to his gruffness and bitterness, Dionysus has been known to enjoy parties (likely because he is the god of festivals where there is wine). However, this is mostly because he hates being at Camp Half-Blood, so he is usually in a bad mood.
Bacchus is the god of wine and intoxication. Though he represents raving lunacy and uncontrollable passion, he also represents personal liberation and unity with nature. He was the god of good-cheer, wine, and hilarity; and of him, as such, the poets have not been sparing in their praises: on all occasions of mirth and jollity, they constantly invoked his presence, and as constantly thanked him for the blessings he bestowed. To him they ascribed the forgetfulness of cares, and the delights of social converse.
The women who accompanied him as his priestesses, were called Maenades, from their madness; Thyădes, from their impetuosity; Bacchae, from their intemperate depravity; and Mimallones, or Mimallonides, from their mimicking their leaders.
The victims agreeable to him were the goat and the swine; because these animals are destructive to the vine. Among the Egyptians they sacrificed a swine to him before their doors; and the dragon, and the pyre on account of its chattering: the trees and plants used in his garlands were the fir, the oak, ivy, the fig, and vine; as also the daffodil, or narcissus. Bacchus had many temples erected to him by the Greeks and the Romans.
As a son of Zeus, Dionysus is a very powerful god.
- Prowess in Battle: Dionysus is known to have fought bravely in the first Gigantomachy.
- Chlorokinesis: He can grow, control, and summon plants, but he prefers grape and strawberry vines.
- He can bind and even suffocate his enemies with grape vines, shown when he killed Dr. Thorn and when he trapped Percy and Blackjack.
- Madness: As the god of madness, Dionysus is able to cause and cure it.
- He can induce madness, shown when he drove Dr. Thorn's minions insane.
- He can cure madness, shown when he cured Chris Rodriguez.
- Alcokinesis: As the god of wine, Dionysus can manipulate alcohol. However, in the series he is not allowed to partake in alcohol and has not shown using this ability.
- He can transform people and objects into anything wine related, as he threatened to do with Percy and Blackjack in The Titan's Curse.
- He can turn people into animals. This happened when he was kidnapped by pirates by mistake and he turned them into dolphins.
- He can conjure any kind of drink, but generally only create cans of diet coke due to his prohibition to drink any kind of alcoholic beverage.
- Partying: He can appear anywhere a party is held.
- Maenad Curse: despite the fact that he despises the Maenads, he will curse anybody who either hurts or kills a single one of them.