Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Bacchus (Gk. Bacchos = Iacchos, probably from iacho, i.e. the cry of the reveller), the name, first found in Herodotus, of the god of the vine, known in later Greece as Dionysus, and in Rome also as Liber. According to the prevailing legend, he was the son of Zeus and Semele, daughter of Cadmus of Thebes. His mother, having rashly desired to see her divine lover in all his glory, was scorched up by his presence. Her unborn child was sewn up in the thigh of Zeus, and hence got the epithet" twice-born," the dithyrambs sung in his praise suggesting the same story. Reared on Nysa, he soon set forth on his travels to spread the culture of the grape, and the orgiastic worship promoted by the use of wine. He went as far as India, and his return thence in a car drawn by tigers was a favourite subject of artists and poets. Lycurgus of Thrace, Pentheus of Thebes, the daughter of Minyas, and Icarus of Attica were punished with death for their opposition to vinous indulgence. In his wanderings the god was attacked by pirates off Naxos, and this incident led to his love affair with Ariadne. Phrygia and Lydia adopted his cult with much zeal, and as Sabazius Bagaios he was venerated on Mount Tmolus. Homer has very little to say about him, and Herodotus regards him as an inferior deity. His connection, through the sacrifice of the goat, with Greek tragedy came later. The Orphic poets made him visit Hades, and thus he came into the Eleusinian mysteries, and was even alleged to be the son of Persephone. He was introduced to Rome through Magna Graecia. The Thyrsus, or ivy-wrapped staff, the Corymbus, or ivy-wreath, the Cantharus, or cup, and the Phallus were his emblems. Sometimes he took the form of an effeminate youth, sometimes of a babe, sometimes of a bearded man.