Dionysus the Greek
god of wine and the theater, was often depicted in mythology and art with
a thyrsos (also spelled thyrsus). The thyrsos was one of the god's symbols.
In addition to the images of Dionysus carrying the thyrsos there are many examples of Maenads (mountain nymphs) holding this distinctive staff. Occasionally, satyrs (creatures, half man and half goat, who form the male portion of Dionysus' entourage) and/or Sileni are portrayed holding this distinctive symbol as well. The thyrsos is a rather odd looking fennel stalk wrapped with ivy-leaves and vines, and topped by a pine-cone sometimes around the base of which was tied a ribbon. In the Bacchae of Euripides, the Maenads are able to bring up wine, water, milk, and honey by touching the thyrsos to the ground, or tapping it against a rock, and when they made an expedition against the people who lived near Cithaeron, they used their thyrsi (plural) as deadly weapons, casting them like spears, which punctured the armor of their enemies. In Homer, Lycurgos boasts of having made the Maenads drop their thyrsi as they ran from him.