Analyze the character of Bacchus with reference to Ovid's Metamorphosis, book 3.

Book 3 of Ovid's Metamorphosis features the god Bacchus's origin story as the "twice-born" son of Jupiter and Semele, a daughter of Cadmus, founder of Thebes. Bacchus is born from Jupiter's thigh after Semele's fiery death and nurtured by his aunt Ino, who gives the young deity to the nymphs of Mt. Nyssa to raise and instruct in the sacred mysteries of ecstatic sensuality. Bacchus becomes the center of a cult of Theban women, disgusting the bellicose Pentheus, Cadmus's grandson.

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The main story Ovid tells in book 3 concerns the founding of the Greek city of Thebes and the curses that befall it at the hands of three Olympian gods: Juno, Diana, and Bacchus. Just like Juno blinded Tiresias in a fit of capriciousness and his half-sister Diana transformed the doomed Actaeon for similar reasons, Bacchus gets his own revenge on the House of Cadmus.

From before his birth, Ovid associates Bacchus with the realm of divine passion and pleasure, too powerful for the mortal Semele to withstand. Bacchus is born from his father yet is raised by his aunt Ino, one of Semele's sisters who entrusts his divine education to the nymphs of Nyssa, who institute him into the sacred mysteries of wine, women, and song.

Wine played a significant role in the Ancient Greek world as a reliably safe beverage, medicine, intoxicant, sacred offering, and valuable item for trade. So, as the god of wine, Bacchus was central to religious rituals, traditional hospitality, and celebration, making him an especially popular deity whose sacred worship was shrouded in mystery. Ovid presents the popularity of Bacchus worship in Thebes as a contrast to the dominant male warrior culture, attracting women and young men more interested in flesh and fun than fighting.

Pentheus perceives the "softness" of Bacchus's cult as a threat to the city's image and security and is intent on killing the god's followers and uncovering his sacred rituals. It is Pentheus's obsession with destroying the bacchanalian cult that leads directly to his own death at the end of book 3, in which the Theban lord is torn apart by his own mother and her sisters, the Maenads, devotees of Bacchus.

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