A daughter of Cadmus and Harmonia, at Thebes, and accordingly a sister of Ino, Agave, Autonoë, and Polydorus. She was beloved by Zeus,1 and Hera, stimulated by jealousy, appeared to her in the form of her aged nurse Beroë, and induced her to pray Zeus to visit her in the same splendor and majesty with which he appeared to Hera. Zeus, who had promised that he would grant her every request, did as she desired. He appeared to her as the god of thunder, and Semele was consumed by the fire of lightning; but Zeus saved her child Dionysus, with whom she was pregnant.2
Pausanias3 relates that Actaeon was in love with her, and that Artemis caused him to be torn to pieces by his dogs, to prevent his marrying her. The inhabitants of Brasiae, in Laconia, related that Semele, after having given birth to Dionysus, was thrown by her father Cadmus in a boat upon the sea, and that her body was driven to the coast of Brasiae, where it was buried; whereas Dionysus, whose life was saved, was brought up at Brasiae.4
- Homer. Iliad xiv, 323; Hymn to Bacchus, 6, 57; Scholiast on Pindar's Olympian Odes ii, 40.
- Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library iii, 4.3; Ovid. Metamorphoses iii, 260 ff.; Hyginus. Fabulae, 179.
- Description of Greece ix, 2.3.
- Pausanias. Description of Greece iii, 24.3.
- Pindar. Olympian Odes ii, 44; Pythian Odes xi, 1; Pausanias. Description of Greece ii, 31.2, 37.5; Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library iii, 5.3.
- Pausanias. Description of Greece ix, 12.3, 16.4.
- Smith, William. (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. London: Taylor, Walton, and Maberly.
This article incorporates text from Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1870) by William Smith, which is in the public domain.