Amethyst is a prince amongst gemstones and one of the most beautiful in the world, so it is no wonder that the February birthstone has many prominent myths and legends associated with this purple gem, both from ancient and modern times.
The striking colours range from an intense violet purple to the more sedate pale and light purples. It has a strong association with royalty because of this stunning colour. Amethyst has many associated beliefs that encompass everything from the spiritual to the supernatural. Read on and explore the poetic origin of the story of the Roman God Bacchus and Amethyste...
In the 16th century, a French Renaissance poet, Rémy Belleau, wrote a poetic tale, "L' Amethyste, ou les Amours de Bacchus et D' Amethyste." Translation "The Amethyst, or the Loves of Bacchus and Amethyst."
We will dive into the story as told by Rémy Belleau and a Greek variation of the same story and go into the intriguing history that amethyst plays in these stories that are actual facts and stay until the end to see some other exciting folklore about amethyst.
A Tale Overview - The Amethyst, or the Loves of Bacchus and Amethyst.
According to the legend that has gained popularity, in a time long past, a young fair maiden known as Amethyste (French for amethyst) was travelling to the temple of the Goddess Diana for worship and prayer. During her travels, Amethyste caught the wine googled eyes of Bacchus (also known as Liber), the Roman God of wine growing, wine, male fertility and freedom.
The Roman deity began pursuing the young maiden romantically as Amethyste rebuffed the advances of the mighty Bacchus, the drunken God was undeterred, and he continued proposing and repeatedly making advances.
The maiden Amethyste continued to reject Bacchus to remain chaste and prayed to the Gods, particularly the Goddess Diana, for protection and help.
The Goddess Diana answered the fair maidens' cries for protection by turning Amethyste into a white quartz crystal statue. Still, in his drunken stupor, Bacchus attempted to lure Amethyste to his side one more time. As an offering, he poured his chalice of wine over the statue. The wine stained the quartz a brilliant purple colour, and Bacchus, now sobering up and humiliated by his actions and the sacrifice of Amethyste, was forced to accept that his advances and favour had been denied for good.
The Greek Version - A Tale of Dionysus and Amethystos
In the Greek version of this legend, the Greek God of wine harvesting, wine, and fertility is called Dionysus and is the son of the mighty Zeus. While intoxicated, the Greek God becomes enraged after being offended by some mere mortals.
In his drunken state and full of self-righteous fury, he vows revenge on the next mortal person he comes across and promises they will pay the penalty for the perceived wrongdoing against him by the other mortals.
Dionysus conjures two large and ferocious tigers that he will use to take his revenge, and then he waits while drinking more wine for the next person. Unfortunately, it is to be a young fair maiden called Amethystos (Greek for not intoxicated and the root of the word amethyst) who soon crosses paths with the wine-sodden God.
Amethystos, unaware of the danger and the offence committed by others, soon discovers the threat as Dionysus tigers look to attack the frightened young girl. Amethystos prayed for help and protection from the goddess of the hunt, Artemis.
Artemis grants her plea for help and provides her with protection by turning her into a clear crystalline statue, which saves Amethystos from a savage and violent tiger attack. The now sobering Dionysus is so overcome with grief and regret at his actions as he sees the beauty of the crystalline figure that he begins to weep uncontrollably.
As Dionysus's tears fall from his eyes to his face and splash onto the giant crystalline statue of Amethystos, the tears begin turning the figure into a vibrant shade of purple.
Facts from Fiction
Though both these stories are fiction, the French Renaissance poet Rémy Belleau did use historical facts to create his account. The most well-known legendary fact is both the Ancient Greeks and Romans did drink from goblets and chalices made from or set with amethyst stones as a curative measure from becoming intoxicated by the consumption of wine. ** Side note this would not and did not work if you thought you finally found a cure for a hangover.
Amythestos does come from Ancient Greek and means "not intoxicated". In the stories, both maiden names translate to amethyst.
Though these particular works of fiction appear in print in the 16th century, there's an earlier reference to Dionysus receiving an amethyst stone to cure his drunkenness from his grandmother, the goddess Rhea that dates back to Ancient times.
Other Myths and Legends of Amethyst.
Numerous cultures around the world value Amethyst. Some of the other amethyst gemstone tales include.
- In Ancient Egypt, they wore amethyst amulets to protect against guilt, anxiety and terror, as well as against black magic and witchcraft.
- Amethyst was and is considered a powerful tool in Feng Shui throughout China. Amethyst is used to ward off negative energies. A Master of Feng Shui usually wields the amethyst stone.
- Medieval European knights would carry the purple gem into battle to help them keep a cool head under pressure amidst the combat.
- As a representation of a blessing, during the Middle Ages, a bride would give a heart-shaped amethyst stone set in silver to the groom before their marriage.
Amethyst is unlike other gemstones because it does not have a mysterious history. Instead, it has many popular beliefs, from the divine to the supernatural. We have explored the wonderous stories from the Reninannce period by the French Poet Remy Belleau and how the stories of Bacchus and Dionysus relate to the belief that amethyst protects from drunkenness.
Aside from mythical and supernatural folklore, amethyst is a phenomenal gemstone. Those who have been lucky enough to be born during the month of February should be thrilled at having such a vibrant and gorgeous gemstone representing them.
Check out our collection of amethyst jewellery, or if you would like something more personal, discuss it with one of our representatives.