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A complex character originally regarded as a poet/musician and magical son of a Thracian King, he was also believed to be the secret offspring of Apollo (some myths describe him directly as a son of Apollo).

Modern scholars often see him as a thinly disguised shamanic figure, and he certainly preserves Dionysian features. On his dismemberment (described above) his oracular head was guarded in the Temple of Dionysos.

He became a key figure in the late Dionysian Mysteries where he was regarded as both the son of Apollo and an avatar of Dionysos! He thus represented the combination of the two gods.