October 29, 2010 § Leave a comment

Some sources offer different myths that explains how amethysts got their purple colour, and how they were given their name.

In some of the myths, Bacchus/Dionysus, the god of intoxication, is angry at the mortals and decides to slay the next mortal crossing his path. The next mortal  happens to be Amethystos, a beautiful maiden on her way to pay tribute to Diana/Artemis. Diana saves Amethystos from being killed by the tigers/lions that Dionysus had sent to kill the mortal. Diana transforms the maiden into a statue of crystalline quartz so that the tigers’ claws would not harm her. When Dionysus saw the beautiful statue he wept tears of wine, in remorse, and the tears stained the quartz purple.

In another version, Dionysus was pursuing a beautiful nymph who refused him. Amethystos prayed to Diana to remain chaste and the goddess answered the prayer by turning the young woman into a white stone. This humbled Dionysus, who poured wine over the stone to honour the maiden, and this dyed the crystals purple.

In yet another variant, the amethyst is given to Dionysus in order to preserve the wine-drinker’s sanity.


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