In Greek mythology, maenads were the female followers of Dionysus and the most significant members of the Thiasus, the god's retinue.
Their name literally translates as raving ones. Maenads were known as Bassarids, Bacchae, or Bacchantes in Roman mythology after the penchant of the equivalent Roman god, Bacchus, to wear a bassaris or fox skin.
Often the maenads were portrayed as inspired by Dionysus into a state of ecstatic frenzy through a combination of dancing and intoxication. During these rites, the maenads would dress in fawn skins and carry a thyrsus, a long stick wrapped in ivy or vine leaves and tipped with a pine cone.
They would weave ivy-wreaths around their heads or wear a bull helmet in honor of their god, and often handle or wear snakes. These women were mythologized as the mad women who were nurses of Dionysus in Nysa.
Lycurgus chased the Nurses of the frenzied Dionysus through the holy hills of Nysa, and the sacred implements dropped to the ground from the hands of one and all, as the murderous Lycurgus struck them down with his ox-goad. They went into the mountains at night and practiced strange rites. According to Plutarch's Life of Alexander, maenads were called Mimallones and Klodones in Macedon, epithets derived from the feminine art of spinning wool. Nevertheless, these warlike parthenoi from the hills, associated with a Dionysios pseudanor fake male Dion