On Percy Jackson and the Olympians

Dionysus: Who Let Him Run a Summer Camp?

By Ellen Steiber

Could there be a more bizarre choice for director of Camp Half-Blood than Dionysus?

Rick Riordan has a gift for playing with the Greek myths. He delights in taking the gods and their stories and giving them just enough of a twist to make them completely believable in our world while still retaining the essence of the ancient beliefs. His Dionysus, more safely referred to as Mr. D (names are, after all, powerfulthings), takes the image of the Greek god of wine and revelry and twists it into a believable contemporary portrait: If you spent most of your time drinking and partying like Mr. D, there’s a good chance that by the time you reached middle age, you too would be overweight, badly dressed, and not care a fig about anything except when you could get your next drink. You certainly wouldn’t be thrilled by having a bunch of “brats” foisted on you. And there’s a good chance you wouldn’t be the most responsible guardian.

Certainly this is Percy Jackson’s take on Mr. D when Percy first arrives at Camp Half-Blood. But first and even fifth impressions don’t tell the whole story when dealing with the Greek gods, who are complex deities. Most of them are multitaskers. Dionysus is not only god of wine and the vine but also the god of fertility, who rules all growing things. (You see this side of Mr. D in Camp Half-Blood’s strawberry fields, which grow so effortlessly and fruitfully that the camp is able to  …

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