One of our best ancient sources for the story of Dionysos and his Maenad followers is found in the Bacchae of Euripides. In this play, the power and destructive capacity of Dionysos are emphasized. This deadly aspect of the god is conveyed primarily through the women who are drawn into his mysterious realm. These women (who, as the title indicates, are called Bacchae or Bacchantes) celebrate Dionysos by abandoning themselves to the wild, liberating energy of nature. Bacchantes, when in the trance of the deity, leave behind home and family, and haunt the forests and mountains, their roles as wives, mothers, and sisters temporarily forgotten.
The Bacchae of course is recommend reading for anyone interested in more information about these followers of Dionysos. And in light of this fact, we offer one more enticing detail about Euripides's depiction of these wild women: when possessed by Dionysos, the Maenads can become savage and brutal...
You can learn much more about Maenads from the following books:
Euripides V: Electra, the Phoenician Women, the Bacchae (The Complete Greek Tragedies) | edited by Grene and Lattimore
The Oxford Classical Dictionary | edited by Simon Hornblower and Antony Spawforth
Maenads in Art History
Gallery | For pictures and information about Maenads in art, visit the Mythography gallery!
Do you have a specific question about Greek mythology? Then try the Mythography forum!
Blessed are those who wear the crown of the ivy of god. Blessed, blessed are they: Dionysos is their god!