The Myth of Amethyst

1 Mar


Everything is beautiful when jewelry and mythology come together.  One of my favorite myths is the myth of amethyst.  Amethyst is a semi-precious gemstone.  Amethyst is a purple-colored stone that comes from the quartz family.  It is actually the most expensive variety of quartz.  The stone has been a popular stone in jewelry since Egyptian times.  The name amethyst comes from ancient Greece. Mythology, in a nutshell, is used to explain how things happened and why things are the way that they are.  This  is the story of the amethyst.

There are two popular  myths behind the amethyst.    Both involve Dionysus being his usual drunk self and a  girl who tried to avoid him. Although the story is attributed to Greek mythology, there are some who say the myth is believed to originate from a romantic French Poet Remmy Belleau.

Dionysus, the god of intoxication -and of wine- was pursuing a maiden named Amethystos, who refused his affections.   Amethystos prayed to the gods to remain chaste, a prayer which the goddess Artemis answered, transforming her into a white stone. Humbled by Amethystos’s desire to remain chaste, Dionysus poured wine over the stone as an offering, dyeing the crystals purple.

In the other version of the story:

Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, was in a bad mood because a mortal had just insulted him.  To get back a the mortals he swore that he would kill the next mortal who would come across his path.  He then set a type of trap using tigers to do his dirty work.  So, of course an innocent person would be the next to cross his path.  The mortal was a beautiful young woman who was walking by in order to pay tribute to the goddess Artemis.  Artemis didn’t have much time to spare the young woman’s life, so she quickly turned her into a statue of pure crystalline quartz.  This would protect her from the tigers, but unfortunately she was now a quartz statue.  When Dionysus saw what he had done, he was overcome with tears.  He wept tears of wine.  He wept and wept.  His tears streamed all over the quartz statue.  The quartz statue was now purple.  The young woman’s name was Amethystos.

All amethyst is said to have originated from the statue of Amethystas.  Because of the association with Dionysus, amethyst is said to protect the wearer from drunkenness.  The word amethyst translates into “Not Drunk”.

3 Responses to “The Myth of Amethyst”

  1. Art by Lowell March 1, 2012 at 5:16 pm #

    I love mythology, history, and etymology. Thanks. I might have to look into acquiring some amethyst now.

  2. Amethyst April 5, 2013 at 3:37 am #

    its nice to know a little more about my name besides that it means not drunk. thanks. 😀

  3. kalliope zerva September 25, 2013 at 2:24 pm #

    It is always nice when people are interested in Greek mythology,thou I have a tiny correction for the piece written above.Artemis was a goddess,so it is a “she”…Amethystos means “the one that can’t get drunk” no matter how much they drink…Thanx

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