They were introduced into Rome from lower Italy by way of Etruria, and held in secret, attended by women only, on three days in the year in the grove of Simila (Stimula, Semele; Ovid, Fasti, vi.
Athamas and his second wife Ino were said to have incurred the wrath of Hera, because Ino had brought up Dionysus, the son of her sister Semele, as a girl, to save his life.
In this character she pursues with vindictive hatred the heroines, such as Alcmene, Leto and Semele, who were beloved by Zeus.
SEMELE, in Greek mythology, daughter of Cadmus and Harmonia, and mother of Dionysus by Zeus.
The god, who had sworn to refuse Semele nothing, unwillingly consented.
He appeared seated in his chariot surrounded by thunder and lightning; Semele was consumed by the flames and gave birth prematurely to a child, which was saved from the fire by a miraculous growth of ivy which sprang up round the palace of Cadmus.
Zeus and Semele probably represent the fertilizing rain of spring, and the earth, afterwards scorched by the summer heat.
Another tradition represents Actaeon as the lover of Semele, and his death as due to the jealousy of Artemis.
At the expiration of this period the gods gave him to wife Harmonia, daughter of Ares and Aphrodite, by whom he had a son Polydorus, and four daughters, Ino, Autonoe, Agave and Semele - a family which was overtaken by grievous misfortunes.
According to the usual tradition, he was born at Thebes - originally the local centre of his worship in Greece - and was the son of Zeus, the fertilizing rain god, and Semele, the daughter of Cadmus, a personification of earth.
Before the child was mature, Zeus appeared to Semele at her request in his majesty as god of lightning, by which she was killed, but the infant was saved from the flames by Zeus (or Hermes).
The title c.µno-Tns given to Dionysus in certain places, probably pointing to human sacrifice.) To connect this with the myth of the Theban birth of Dionysus, it is said that Zeus gave the child's heart to Semele, or himself swallowed it and gave birth to the new Dionysus (called Iacchus from his worshippers' cry of rejoicing), who was cradled and swung in a winnowing fan (Xikvos; see J.