|Semele was the daughter of
Cadmus and Harmonia, and the mother, by Zeus, of the god
Dionysus. Because Zeus slept with Semele secretly, Hera
only found out about the affair after the girl was
pregnant. Bent on revenge, Hera disguised herself and
persuaded Semele to demand that Zeus come to her in all
the splendor with which he visited Hera. As a result,
Semele asked Zeus to grant an unspecified favor, and got
him to swear by the river Styx that he would grant it.
Unable to break his oath, Zeus came to her armed in his
thunder and lightning, and Semele was destroyed. However,
Zeus rescued the unborn child from the mother's ashes and
sewed it in his thigh until it was ready to be born. Thus
Dionysus is sometimes called "the twice-born."
Dionysus was raised at first by Semele's sister and
brother-in-law, Ino and Athamus, and later by the nymphs
of Nysa. As an adult, he retrieved his mother from Hades
and made her a goddess; she was called Thyone.