Semele is Dionysus’ mortal mother, the daughter of Cadmus, and the sister of Agave, Ino, and Autonoe. Semele was killed accidentally by her lover, the supreme god Zeus, when he took on the form of a lightning storm. Though she never appears on the stage, she is a major reason for Dionysus’ presence in Thebes. Since her death, rumors spread that her lover was a mortal, and that she had invented the Zeus to protect her dignity. Dionysus has come to prove his godliness and thereby restore honor to his mother’s name.
Semele Character Timeline in The Bacchae
The timeline below shows where the character Semele appears in The Bacchae. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Lines 1 - 168
...clothed in fawn-skin, holding the thyrsus.” He explains that he’s targeted Thebes because his mother Semele’s sisters, Agave, Ino, and Autonoe, deny that he is the son of Zeus and dishonor... (full context)
Lines 169 - 519