The earliest cult images of Dionysus show a mature male, bearded and robed. He holds a fennel staff, tipped with a pine-cone and known as a thyrsus. Later images show him as a beardless, sensuous, naked or half-naked androgynous youth: the literature describes him as womanly or "man-womanish".
Mythology refers variously to the collected myths of a group of people or to the study of such myths.
Myths are the stories people tell to explain nature, history and customs.
Myth is a feature of every culture. Many sources for myths have been proposed, ranging from personification of nature or personification of natural phenomena, to truthful or hyperbolic accounts of historical events to explanations of existing rituals. Mythologizing continues, as shown in contemporary mythopoeia such as urban legends and the expansive fictional mythoi created by fantasy novels and comics. A culture's collective mythology helps convey belonging, shared and religious experiences, behavioral models and moral and practical lessons.