Myths about the Roman God Bacchus

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Myths about the Roman God Bacchus
Bacchus was the son of Jupiter, by Semele, daughter of Cadmus, king of Thebes, in which city he is said to have been born. He was the god of good-cheer, wine, and hilarity; and of him, as such, the poets have not been sparing in their praises: on all occasions of mirth and jollity, they constantly invoked his presence, and as constantly thanked him for the blessings he bestowed. To him they ascribed the forgetfulness of cares, and the delights of social converse.

He is described as a youth of a plump figure, and naked, with a ruddy face, and an effeminate air; he is crowned with ivy and vine leaves, and bears in his hand a thyrsus, or javelin with an iron head, encircled with ivy and vine leaves: his chariot is sometimes drawn by lions, at others by tigers, leopards, or panthers; and surrounded by a band of Satyrs, Bacchae, and Nymphs, in frantic postures; whilst old Silenus, his preceptor, follows on an ass, which crouches with the weight of his burden.

The women who accompanied him as his priestesses, were called Maenades, from their madness; Thyades, from their impetuosity; Bacchae, from their intemperate depravity; and Mimallones, or Mimallonides, from their mimicking their leaders.

The victims agreeable to him were the goat and the swine; because these animals are destructive to the vine. Among the Egyptians they sacrificed a swine to him before their doors; and the dragon, the trees and plants used in his garlands were the fir, the oak, ivy, the fig, and vine; as also the daffodil, or narcissus. Bacchus had many temples erected to him by the Greeks and the Romans.

Whoever attentively reads Horace's inimitable ode to this god, will see that Bacchus meant no more than the improvement of the world by tillage, and the culture of the vine.

Bacchus the King of the Gods
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Roman Gods

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