BTS Dionysus – When Pop Music Met Greek Mythology

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BTS Dionysus Analysis

Dionysus, the God of the vine, grape harvest, wine, fertility, and ecstasy, has often been referenced in many art forms throughout history. Therefore, it is no surprise that the story of the Greek deity that possessed the ability to inspire and incite ecstasy has found its way to the music. More specially, the renowned global superstar band BTS discography.

But before we dive into the parallels between Dionysus and the smash hit title song of the same name by BTS, we must first take a brief look into the mythology of Dionysus itself.

Who is Dionysus?

Dionysus is one of the 12 Olympians and was born to Zeus and Semele. He is famously known to be born twice. Once, he was born prematurely to dying Semele, who was a human and also said to be an Asian. But he was sewn to Zeus’ thigh by Zeus himself to save his son’s life. Dionysus was the God of wine. To the Romans, Dionysus was often called Bacchus, meaning “free” because of the freedom associated with wine and drunken celebrations. The Dionysia, or drinking festivals held in his honor, were highly popular among his followers.

The Bacchanalia is another Roman term for Dionysus’ festivities. It was widely associated with freedom, relinquishing inhibitions, and enjoyment of art, music, and other ritual rites. This term is the first reference you can observe in BTS’s Dionysus. The song starts with lyrics such as “Drink it Up,” “Just get drunk like Dionysus,” “A glass in one hand, Thyrsus in the other…” and so on. It was evident that this song directly refers to the Greek god Dionysus. Because it is not just the name but also references to other references such as grapevine and ivy-covered shaft, Thyrsus that the Greek deity carried around. 

References of the Greek God to a BTS Song


Next, we see the marvel of BTS’s songwriting by observing the wordplay the title track employs. For instance, on the surface, one would question why the K-pop idols would encourage drinking and partying to their predominantly young and impressionable fanbase. In reality, upon closer inspection, it becomes evident that the use of the term “Sul,” meaning alcohol in Korean, is a nod to the enjoyment of art- the Korean word for which is “Ye Sul.”  Thus, the meaning behind the lyrics seems to be the consumption of the band’s art and the subsequent ecstasy experience. 

Rebirth of a god and an artist

Rebirth is also one of the parallels on which BTS’s Dionysus draws. The theme of the rebirth of Dionysus is essential here. One lyric in the song reads, “We were born twice,” which alludes to their initial endeavors as K-pop idols and then a rebirth that made them renowned and revered worldwide as artists.  

In the second verse, there is a second mention of Thyrsus, but this time in a state of wreckage, with its pieces piled onto one another. Many fans deciphered this to hint at the unreleased music that has never seen the light of day. 

As such, BTS draws from the mythology of Dionysus to convey how they want their music and art to be a source of joy, relief, and excitement for their fans. 

You can find a detailed explanation about this via this YouTube video on the WITH MYER마이어랑 YouTube channel.

BTS Dionysus Analysis

BTS Dionysus is yet another marvel of wordplay, something BTS is exceptional at! Lyrics by the Rap line of BTS and a team of writers.

Songwriters: Dong Hyuk Shin / Ho Seok Jeong / Ho Weon Kang / Nam Jun Kim / Roman Campolo / Yoon Gi Min

BTS Dionysus Lyrics Explanation

The song starts with 쭉 들이켜 (Drink it up); however, it is not an invitation to get drunk and get wasted. It is a wordplay between two Korean words, 예술 (yesool – art) and (sool – alcoholic drink). A study by the Montreal Neuroscience Institute found that the part of the brain that is stimulated by alcohol is also stimulated by listening to music. That means music can be just as addictive as alcohol.

Let’s dive deep into the song lyrics. Please note that there are additional words/phrases in the English translation to help explain the song better; hence, it is a contextual translation but not a word-to-word translation.

쭉 들이켜

Drink well (enjoy the art of music)

술잔 (sippin’) 팔짱 (tippin’) (한 입)

Drinking glass by mouth (try the art of music little by little)

Shake hands (gratefully) at once

티르소스 (grippin’) 포도 (eatin’) (쭉 들이켜)

Thyrsus stick (grabbing) Grapes (eating)

분위기 (keep it) D style (rip it) (한 입)

Feelings (keep) D tone (Dionysus tone)

Tear it down in one go (obstacles)

여기 (kill it) let’s steal it

Kill here (as Dionysus removed his obstacles)

The illest

We steal the charm

Check the following reference articles to learn more about BTS Dionysus Analysis:

  2. Dionysus | Powers, God, Parents, Meaning, Symbols, & Facts. (n.d.). Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved August 18, 2021, from URL
  3. Dionysus Explained [Video]. YouTube. Ceylon Bangtan URL
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