Semele’s father, the King of Thebes, has arranged a marriage for her with Athamas, a Prince of Boeotia. But Semele has no desire to marry Athamas. She desperately prays to Jupiter for his help to escape this arranged marriage. Jupiter appears as a vast thunderstorm and destroys the temple, before transforming into an eagle and taking Semele to live with him. With Jupiter, Semele lives a life of endless pleasure and love.
Jupiter’s wife, Juno, has had quite enough of his affairs. This time, she means to get her revenge against Jupiter. Disguising herself as Semele’s sister, she uses Semele’s vanity and pride to her advantage. She shows Semele a vision of herself as immortal, and tells her that she will be able to achieve immortality if she only looks on Jupiter in his true form. Semele demands that Jupiter reveals himself to her, and he is forced to obey, knowing that it will kill her. A baby is born out of Semele’s ashes, who will become Bacchus, the god of wine and ecstacy.
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