When he first created wine, Dionysus journeyed across the world seeking to introduce his intoxicating new drink to men. As he taught men the art of cultivating vines and invited them to join the mysteries of his cult, he was accompanied by a large procession of followers, comprised of hundreds of nature spirits such as nymphs and satyrs who hailed him as a god - Eleutherios ("the liberator").
Among them, there was a particularly rowdy group of wild and ravenous nymphs known as the Maenads. They were some of the most eccentric of Dionysus' followers and were highly devoted to him as they observed his cult following and procession as a new religious experience. Once they were drunk, they would tear apart the bodies of those they saw disturbing in their sacred rituals in an ecstatic frenzy. Though they are his followers, Dionysus despises the Maenads. However, if anyone kills/destroys a Maenad, Dionysus will drive the person insane, kill them, or both.
Leo Valdez and the Quest for Buford
The Maenads skip barefooted into a mall parking lot sized clearing in the forest while Leo Valdez, Jason Grace, and Piper McLean look for Buford. While the Maenads laughed and sung each other around spinning until they became dizzy, a drakon appears though the Maenads don't seem to notice at first. After some time, one of the girls notice the drakon, squealing in delight and skipping toward the monster with the other girls in pursuit. One of the Maenads hopefully asks if the drakon is Dionysus, but ends up dancing out of the way of the drakon's flames. The drakon then catches the Maenad's arm in its mouth, though the Maenad demonstrates remarkable strength by pulling her arm free of the drakon's mouth along with several broken teeth. The Maenad scolds the drakon for not being Dionysus and then insists upon the drakon joining the party. Squealing in delight, all the Maenads threw themselves at the drakon. Their cheerful delight turned into vicious snarling as they attacked the drakon with long, white talons and elongated wolf-like fangs. The Maenads ripped at the drakon slowly until its spirit returned to Tartarus.
The Maenads then find Leo, Jason, and Piper and ask if one of them is Dionysus. When Leo pretends to be Dionysus, Babette digs deeper until the Maenads are aware that Leo is pretending. On the command of Babette, the Maenads go for the "unbelievers" until Leo shoots fire at the group. The Maenads, however, laugh, dancing on their bare feet through the flames. The Maenads then give chase to the three demigods, following Leo and Piper back into Bunker 9. They enter Bunker 9, but Piper distracts them by ordering them to dance and party. Leo creates a trap made with streamers and music, and traps them in a gold cage made of Hephaestus' gold netting (that originally trapped Ares and Aphrodite). Chiron and Argus decide to ship them off to Atlantic City, to get the partying out of their system.
The Maenads look like teenage girls. Their skin was webbed with bright capillaries, their eyes were severely bloodshot, and their lips were redder than normal. When they get overly excited, their fingernails turn into long, white talons, and their teeth elongate into wolf-like fangs. The Maenads wear tunic dresses of loose purple, red silk with leaves tangled in their hair, and tiny vipers adorning some of their heads. Some carried large twisted, wooden branches topped with a giant pine cone with some wrapped with living snakes.
- Their name literally means 'raving ones', justified by their irrationally wild behavior.
- They killed Orpheus, a relative of Apollo.
- In True Blood, Maenads are seen as monsters who are supposed to sacrifice shapeshifters in order to please their god.
- Other Maenads are mentioned in the myths, including Agave (a daughter of Harmonia and King Cadmus of Thebes), granddaughter of Aphrodite and Dionysus' maternal aunt.
- The Maenads from The Demigod Diaries story, Leo Valdez and the Quest for Buford, are too young to drink alcohol, so they get drunk on eggnog instead.