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Tales beyond belief

Discover the legends and myths and religious beliefs surrounding Bacchus, the Roman god of wine, revels, joy and drama. He was the son of Jupiter, the king of the Roman gods and Semele, the daughter of Cadmus. The name Bacchus derives from 'bacca' meaning berry. Bacchus was the personification of the blessings of nature in general.

The name of his festival was  'Bacchanalia' which has since been used to refer to any forms of drunken revelry.The Greek counterpart of this ancient Roman deity was Dionysus

Facts about Bacchus
Bacchus was not only the god of wine but he was also the Roman god of good-cheer, hilarity, mirth and revels. The festival called Bacchanalia was held in his honor. The terrible reputation of these festivals, notorious for their debauchery and where all kinds of crimes and political conspiracies were supposed to be planned, led to a ban on these festivals. In 186 B.C. the Roman Senate issued a decree, the so called 'Senatus consultum de Bacchanalibus' by which the Bacchanalia were prohibited throughout the whole of Italy, except in certain special cases, in which the senate reserved the right of allowing them. The following facts and profile provides a fast overview of Bacchus:

Roman Name: Bacchus
Role & Function: His function is described as being the god of wine and drama
Status: Major God and one of the 'Dei Consentes', the Council of Gods.
Symbols: Bunch of grapes and a wine cup
Alternate Name: Liber
Greek Counterpart: The Greek name for this god was Dionysus
Name of Wife: Ariadne
Name of Father: Jupiter
Name of Mother: Semele, the daughter of Cadmus
Names of Children: Names of his children by Ariadne were Oenopion, Thoas, Staphylos and Peparethus. Other children, by Venus, included the Charites, Hymenaios and Priapus

Facts about Bacchus in Greek Mythology and History
Discover interesting information and facts about the Roman god of wine and drama.

  • He was the son of Jupiter and Semele and the husband of Ariadne

  • Silenus was the tutor of Bacchus and was generally represented on an ass.

  • The Thyrsus was the name of the vine encircled wand borne by the followers of the god

  • Telete was the goddess of initiation into the Bacchic orgies

  • Acratopotes was the god of unmixed wine and incontinence and Adephagia was the spirit of satiety and gluttony

  • He features in the Myth of King Midas

  • The Pleiades, the Seven Sisters were famous Oreads, mountain nymphs and were associated with Bacchus with whom they frolicked in the woody hills where many lived

  • Liber was another name given to the god of wine and revelry. The Liberalia were festivals held in honor of the god. The Liberalia, was celebrated on the 17th of March

  • Bacchanalia was the festival to the god was held between March 15 and 16

  • Bacchanalia were held in in the grove of Simila, near the Aventine Hill in Rome. It was initially attended by women only with many secret rites. The Latin word 'orgia' originally meant "secret rites" and from which the modern word 'orgy' is derived.

  • The Bacchantes was the name given to female followers of the god

  • Admission to the Bacchanalian rites were subsequently extended to men and celebrations took place five times a month.

  • The term 'bacchanalia' is used to refer to any drunken revelry.
    There were many temples erected to him by the Romans. Sacrifices to the god were the goat and the swine because these animals were destructive to the vine.

Bacchus (Greek Counterpart was Dionysus)
The Romans habitually assimilated various elements from other cultures and civilisations, including the gods and goddesses that were worshipped by the Greeks and other nations. When the Roman Empire conquered the Greeks in 146BC many of the Greek gods and goddesses were adopted by the Romans.  The Romans simply changed the Greek gods names to Latin equivalents. His Greek counterpart of was Dionysus. The Roman religion significantly differed from the Greeks in that it was officially endorsed by the state and exerted influence over the government of Rome. Politicians took the offices of influential priests, called pontiffs, to gain control of the popular worship, Roman gods and goddesses like Bacchus were worshipped at every public event, including the gladiatorial games, where blood sacrifices were made to the gods. In ancient Rome, the pantheon of 12 major gods, including Bacchus, were called the 'Dei Consentes' meaning the Council of Gods.

Gods and Deities
Roman Gods and Goddesses

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