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Bacchus e Ampelus (Uffizi, Florence)

Ampelos (Greek: ?, lit."Vine") or Ampelus (Latin) was a personification of the grapevine and lover of Dionysus[1] in Greek and Roman mythology. He was a satyr that either turned into a Constellation or the grape vine, due to Dionysus.


In Nonnus's etiology, Ampelos is a beautiful satyr youth, who was loved by Dionysus, and whose death was foreseen by the god. There are two versions of his death and Dionysus's reaction to it. According to Nonnus, Ampelos was gored to death by a wild bull after he mocked the goddess Selene, a scene described as follows:

"[Ampelos, love of Dionysos, rode upon the back of a wild bull:] He shouted boldly to the fullfaced Moon (Mene)--'Give me best, Selene, horned driver of cattle! Now I am both--I have horns and I ride a bull!'
So he called out boasting to the round Moon. Selene looked with a jealous eye through the air, to see how Ampelos rode on the murderous marauding bull. She sent him a cattlechasing gadfly; and the bull, pricked continually all over by the sharp sting, galloped away like a horse through pathless tracts [it then threw and gored him to death]"[2]

Upset by his death, Dionysus transformed Ampelos's body into the first grape vine and created wine from his blood.


The second version involves grape vines in a different manner. According to Ovid:

"the reckless youth fell picking gaudy grapes on a branch. Liber [Dionysos] lifted the lost boy to the stars," turning him into one of the stars of the constellation Vindemitor or Vindiatrix (better known as Boötes).[3]


Various ampelose--also "Ampelos" in the singular--also appear in Greek mythology[where?] a variety of hamadryad.

In the European tradition

During the Middle Ages and Renaissance Ampelos was not known. In the New Age and later, his image is found only occasionally. The myth about him was "rediscovered" in Europe in XVII century, when the first translations of "The Acts of Dionysus" were published. Such artists as Jacob Matham and Jan Mil took part in their design. An image of Ampellos can also be found, for example, in the books "Etruscan, Greek and Roman antiquities" (1766) by Pierre François Hugh d'Hankarville (English), "Stories of ancient and modern wines" (1824) by Dr. Alexander Henderson. The image of Ampellos appears in the works of Martin Opitz (1622), Heinrich Heine ("The Gods in Exile" (1853)) and Matthew Arnold ("The Lost Wanderer" (1898)), Roberto Calasso (1988). Some researchers also point out that the myth of Dionysus and Ampellos was one of the sources of inspiration for the French homosexual writer André Gide.


  1. ^ "AMPELOS - Grape-Vine Satyr of Greek Mythology". Retrieved .
  2. ^ Nonnus, Dionysiaca 11. 185 ff
  3. ^ Ovid Fasti 3. 407 ff

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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