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"DEATH TO THE KING,
FOR THE GLORY OF THE GODS!"''
|Alignment||Chaotic Neutral, Chaotic Good, Chaotic Evil|
|Appearance||Frenzied (or reveling) humanoid|
The Maenad is a creature with origins in Greek mythology, legend and folklore. In particular, accounts indicate that the Maenads are a variant of the Nymph species, Dryads, Naiads and Oreads changed in their devotion to Dionysus. Though, in certain cases, human women either willingly offered themselves up in devotion to Dionysus, or were changed involuntarily into Maenads for rejecting him.
Foremost, it should be noted that nearly all Maenads are Nymphs, but all are women.
It was also said by Aeschylus that the Maenads were equally as strange in appearance to the daughters of Phorcys (ie the Gorgons). That is to say, the faces of Maenads are frightening to behold (though they do not hold the Gorgons' same petrifying quality). Otherwise, their eyes, hair and skin are like unto their true nature as Nymphs or human women.
Though some are compelled against their will by his curse, the majority of the Maenads are fiercely devoted to the worship of the god Dionysus. When they wear clothes, they are known to wear pelts made from the skins of leopards, fawns and foxes, animals sacred to Dionysus. They also wear ivy wreaths on their heads and wield a thyrsus (a wand tipped with a pine cone), as well as wearing and/or manually handling snakes.
Perhaps most particular about a Maenad's behavior is that it is almost exclusively defined in terms of their worship. Aside from eating, sleeping and using the bathroom, nearly all they do is rage and rave in the name of Bacchic devotion. They dance, drink and play instruments and have orgies (among themselves, as well as with humans and Satyrs), and serve Dionysus (including, in many cases, violent attacks). The most famous case of their attacking at Dionysus' whim was the dismembering of the king of Thebes, Pentheus.
However, those involuntary into the service of Dionysus have been known to also attack those whom Dionysus favors. The most well-known case of this is in the brutal murder of Orpheus, for which the perpetrating Maenads were cursed by being involuntarily turned into trees for the rest of their natural lives.
A Maenad's power is nearly always in the service of Dionysus, and thus they stem from and pertain to his domain. Foremost, they are endowed with great strength and stamina, so as to dance for prolonged periods of time without needing to rest, and to physically tear apart those who defy Dionysus' worship with little effort. Maenads are also granted a fair level of durability, so as to be unharmed by violent romping through the wilderness, and unharmed by the fires that their destructive revels often start. They are even gifted with heightened agility and flexibility, so as to more freely flow with the erratic ecstasy that overtakes their movements.
Moreover, Maenads are known to charm snakes (and perhaps other animals, which may explain how they fashion their pelts). If nothing else, it is believed that they are able to charm animals sacred to Dionysus. And by use of their voices, their music or the thyrsus they wield, Maenads may cause wine, milk and/or honey to pour forth from various places in nature (ie natural springs, or the teat of a female animal).
There is also the ability of the Maenads to resist certain mental tampering. Because the power that incites them to madness is divine in nature (ie derived from Dionysus' power), it is resistant to lesser levels of power that might otherwise be able to affect mortal minds; in evidence of this, Maenads are the only mortal beings known to have resisted the music and singing voice of the mythical bard Orpheus.