The bacchanalia were wild and mystic festivals of the Roman and Greek god Bacchus. Introduced into Rome from lower Italy by way of Etruria (c. 200 BC), the bacchanalia were originally held in secret and only attended by women. The festivals occurred on three days of the year in the grove of Simila near the Aventine Hill, on March 16 and March 17. Later, admission to the rites was extended to men and celebrations took place five times a month. According to Livy, the extension happened in an era when the leader of the Bacchus cult was Paculla Annia - though it is now believed that some men had participated before that.
Livy informs us that the rapid spread of the cult, which he claims indulged in all kinds of crimes and political conspiracies at its nocturnal meetings, led in 186 BC to a decree of the Senate—the so-called Senatus consultum de Bacchanalibus, inscribed on a bronze tablet discovered in Apulia in Southern Italy (1640), now at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna—by which the Bacchanalia were prohibited throughout all Italy except in certain special cases which must be approved specifically by the Senate. In spite of the severe punishment inflicted on those found in violation of this decree (Livy claims there were more executions than imprisonment), the Bacchanalia survived in Southern Italy long past the repression.
Modern scholars hold Livy's account in doubt and believe that the Senate acted against the Bacchants for one or more of three reasons. First, because women occupied leadership positions in the cult (contrary to traditional Roman family values). Second, because slaves and the poor were the cult's members and were planning to overthrow the Roman government. Or third, according to a theory proposed by Erich Gruen, as a display of the Senate's supreme power to the Italian allies as well as competitors within the Roman political system, such as individual victorious generals whose popularity made them a threat to the senate's collective authority.
Modern usage and trivia
The term bacchanalia has since been extended to refer to any drunken revelry. In A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens uses the phrase "the law was certainly not behind any other learned profession in its Bacchanalian propensities."
- Bacchanalia is one of Rice University's most popular parties, requiring of all attendees that they wear a well-fashioned toga and drink from the mystic Bag-O's of wine.
- Within the philosophy of Hegel, a Bacchanalian revel is used within the Preface, paragraph 47.
- [[Bennington College] hosts an annual party titled Bacchanal in the Dewey House. The event usually occurs in late April or early May.
- Sarah Lawrence College engages in a bacchanalia at the end of the spring semester.
- San Diego has a venue called Bacchanal Club, where live bands perform.
- "Bacchanalia" was used in "The Word" segment of The Colbert Report, first aired on October 18, 2005 with guest Lesley Stahl.
Representation in the arts:
- One of the best-known melodies from Camille Saint-Saëns's 1877 opera Samson and Delilah is the Bacchanalia.
- Bacchanalia is also a highly-regarded Atlanta restaurant by owner-chefs Anne Quatrano and Cliff Harrison, located in a former meatpacking plant.
- Bacchanalia and Bacchanal is the term used to describe the drinking, dancing and general revelry associated with Trinidad and Tobago's annual carnival.
- Bacchanalian is also a Boulder, Colorado-based rock band.
- A Bacchanal is held in Donna Tartt's book The Secret History, and is a pivotal plot device allowing a justification of the pre-defined murder.
- Bacchanal is the title of the fifth track from the Clutch album, ''''.
- A Brief Tutorial In Bacchanalia is a song by Fear Before The March Of Flames
- The word Bacchanal appears in the last stanza of the song "Dance Little Sister" from the Rolling Stones 1974 album "It's Only Rock 'n' Roll".
- The term is used in the second line of alternative rock band Third Eye Blind's song "Faster", which is track one of their third studio release Out of the Vein.
- Bacchanal Time is the title of a soca song by Superblue, celebrating carnival in Trinidad and Tobago.
- The Bacchanal Affair is the title of the third track in heavy metal band It Dies Today's album Sirens.
- Maenad - female worshippers of Dionysus
- Dionysus - Another name for Bacchus in Greek
- Thriambus - a hymn sung in processions in honour of Dionysus
- Dionysian Mysteries
- Roman Senate - political body responsible for suppressing the Bacchanalia
- Euripides Bacchae, a Greek tragedy, gives some insight as to what was involved in a Bacchanalian rite.
- Bacchanales. Actes des colloques Dionysos de Montpellier (1996-1998). Textes réunis par Pierre Sauzeau. Montpellier : Publications de l'Université Paul Valéry, 2000, 300 p. (ISBN 2-84269-382-5) ; ''Cahiers du GITA'' nº 13 (ISSN 0295-9900).
Index: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
This article is based on "Bacchanalia" from the free encyclopedia Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org). It is licensed under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation Licencse. In the Wikipedia you can find a list of the authors by visiting the following address: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Bacchanalia&action=history