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The legend of Zagreus is one of the strangest stories in Greek mythology. Zagreus was born after Zeus disguised himself as a serpent and ravished Persephone. The god wanted to make Zagreus his heir and eventually confer world royalty upon himself. But the Fates decided otherwise. In order to escape Hera's jealousy, Zeus entrusted the little child to the care of Apollo and the Curetes, who hid him in the forests of the Parnassus. But Hera discovered where the child was concealed and ordered the Titans to abduct him. Zagreus changed into a bull, but failed to escape the Titans, who cut him to pieces and devoured him, half raw and half cooked. Athena
and Apollo rushed to the scene of the disaster, but they were too late; they were able to save only pieces of the divine child. But these included the heart of Zagreus, which was still beating. Zeus absorbed it and regenerated the child within his own body, and then he took the name of Iacchus. Following this he became more or less confused with Dionysus and figured in the mysteries of Eleusis. His previous fate made him able to be the patron of any religion of rebirth and immortality, because in the Titan's banquet he had lost his entire mortal life and in returned obtained divine life. A.G.H.


Grimal, Pierre, Larousse World Mythology, Secaucus, New Jersey, Chartwell Books, 1965, p. 121

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