Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Deon
Deon is a spelling variant of Dion, which in turn is short for Dionysius, the god of wine and revelry from Greek mythology (Roman: Bacchus). The name Dionysius is derived from the ancient Greek elements Διος (Dios) meaning “of Zeus” and Νυσα meaning “Nysa” which is the name of the mountain where rain nymphs raised Dionysius. So the etymology of Dion/Deon, which only contains the first element, means “of Zeus”, Zeus being the supreme Olympic god of all gods in Greek mythology. Dionysius was born of Zeus and the mortal Princess of Thebes, Semele (after Zeus appeared before Semele as a fellow mortal and seduced her). Zeus often antagonized his wife, Hera, with his many adulterous affairs and Semele was no exception. When Hera learned of the union (which had resulted in a pregnancy), she tricked Semele into demanding proof that Zeus was indeed a god by appearing before her in his divine shape. Although Zeus protested, Semele insisted. Mortals could not look upon a god in his full and true form without instantly perishing, and this is exactly what happened to Semele. Before disintegrating in the light of Zeus’s full glory, Semele gave birth to a premature Dionysius. Zeus took the tiny baby and stitched him into his thigh until Dionysius was a fully mature baby ready for rebirth (it is for this reason that Dionysius is often referred to as "twice-born”). Zeus gave the baby to the rain nymphs of Nysa to nurse and raise him outside of Hera’s wrathful eye. In his youth, Dionysius discovered how to cultivate the grape vine and extract its valuable liquid; thus becoming the god of the wine harvest. Dionysius personified wine, revelry, ecstasy and even hedonistic debauchery. For many of the ancient Greeks and Romans, cults and festivals grew up around Dionysius and Bacchus, respectively. The loss of inhibitions produced by intoxication was believed to bring one closer to a divine state. However, people in states of inebriation are also known to provoke hysterical and uncivilized behavior, so much so, the Roman Senate outlawed such festivals by the 2nd century B.C. After the Christianization of Europe, Dionysius became the poster child of “unchristian like” activities and selfish indulgence. However, we will always think of him as a good-time Charlie. What’s wrong with a little fun, after all? Given names which have derived from Dionysius not only include Dion and Deon (female: Dionne), but also Dennis and Denise.