In The Bacchae, thyrsuses of fennel were used by Dionysus' female followers to fend off huntsmen sent by Pentheus and in the pillaging of two villages, Erythrae and Hysiae. Enchanted with Dionysus' power, the thyrsuses were able to pierce as sharply as a spear. The wands were also able to produce water when tapped against a rock and wine when dug into the ground, and honey flowed continually from their tips.

Thyr"sus (?), n.; pl. Thyrsi (#). [L., fr. Gr. . Cf. Torso.]


A staff entwined with ivy, and surmounted by a pine cone, or by a bunch of vine or ivy leaves with grapes or berries. It is an attribute of Bacchus, and of the satyrs and others engaging in Bacchic rites.

A good to grow on graves As twist about a thyrsus. Mrs. Browning.

In my hand I bear The thyrsus, tipped with fragrant cones of pine. Longfellow.

2. Bot.

A species of inflorescence; a dense panicle, as in the lilac and horse-chestnut.


© Webster 1913.

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