This study examines in detail the handling of an ancient story by three poets of widely differing dates and also considers what is known of lost versions from the surviving prose summaries. It does not speculate on origins or seek to reconstruct the historical connexions between lost and surviving versions, since neither activity can lead to certain results. Origins in religious cult were very much the concern of O. Crusius in an article entitled ‘Der homerische Dionysoshymnus und die Legende von der Verwandlung der Tyrsener’ (Philologus 48 , 193-228), and this should be used as a warning example. His main purpose, however, was to establish the antiquity of the Homeric Hymn to Dionysus and in this he amply succeeded. Although it is impossible to date the hymn within a century or two, no one is likely to dispute that it is the oldest extant version of the story, and no more than that is assumed in this study. In the last part of his article (pp. 218-28) Crusius briefly examines the prose summaries and later poetic versions of the story, and here he makes a number of valuable observations, which I shall acknowledge or dispute wherever relevant. The justification for the present study is that it takes the examination of the material very much further and offers some original interpretations. Care will be taken throughout to be fully intelligible without obliging the reader to turn to the relevant texts, although it will be an advantage to have the texts of the Homeric hymn, Ovid and Nonnus at hand. References to Crusius’ article are made by means of his name and the page-number. The only other unusual abbreviation is ‘A.H.S.’ for the edition of the Homeric hymns edited by T. W. Allen, W. R. Halliday and E. E. Sikes (Oxford, 1936).