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I was reading Dan Brown and found out that Dionysus's birthday (I assume 2nd birth from Zeus's calf) is the same as Jesus.

What similarities do they share other than this?

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    We don't even know when Jesus was born though... – bleh Oct 21 '17 at 21:26
  • There are two traditions for his birth. Dan Brown uses the date December 25th(Christmas) and another source uses the less popular date of January 6th. Basically, around the time of the winter solstice. – Andrew Johnson Oct 21 '17 at 21:31
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    That's not when Jesus was born though, but sure. Most people say it was in spring – bleh Oct 21 '17 at 21:39
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    The December "birthday" was - as far as I'm aware - just an adoption of the traditional winter solstice commemoration. In a similar fashion Dan Brown interprets stuff freely to create connections and fake facts to tie everything together. It's probably part of the fascination, but historically many things are just completely made up. – Mario Oct 22 '17 at 6:01
  • The December birthday is indeed suspect, I'm not aware of any Greek source that gives a specific date or month for Dionysus birth. Let's find out where Dan Brown got the idea from: Do Mithras, Osiris, Adonis, and Dionysus share a December 25 birthday?. – yannis Oct 22 '17 at 8:59
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The relationship between these Jesus and Dionysus has multiple aspects. Here are the most basic:

  • Both had a divine father and a mortal mother

  • Both were sacrificed

  • Both died and were resurrected

  • Wine symbolizes the blood of both

In the Christian tradition, Jesus says "for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins." [Matthew 26:28] In the pagan tradition, each year Dionysus is symbolically torn apart* in the cutting and stamping of grapes, buried in a cave (typically in a cask), and in spring is "reborn in spirit", literally.

Dionysus also famously "returned from the East" after his resurrection. (Some accounts have him returning from the South, but in both cases he was regarded as a foreign god. This is part of the reason Pentheus, "Divine Agony", rejects him.) Jesus "was from the East" from a Greek perspective, certainly foreign, and came to Greece through the Apostle Paul.

From a mythological perspective, these gods are both "liminal", meaning that they move between worlds, in this case, life/death or earth/heaven.

Dionysus is also known as "twice born" because he was first carried by his mother, Semele, and then removed on her death and borne in Zeus' thigh until his second birth. Jesus is often regarded as having been "born again" and the term is still used today in many Christian sects to describe adherents.


*The sacrifice of Dionysus is sometimes referred to as the sparagmos where he is torn apart and eaten by Titans. This event in commemorated in the Bacchae, which has a religious function--Greek dramas were presented at the Festival of Dionysus.

You may find this verse from TS Eliot interesting:

"The dripping blood our only drink,
The bloody flesh our only food:
In spite of which we like to think
That we are sound, substantial flesh and blood—
Again, in spite of that, we call this Friday good."

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