Bible Articles on the Topic of Bacchus

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Dionysus

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be ye filled with the Spirit. (Ephesians 5:18)

Bacchus

bak ́us Διόνυσος, Díonusos; later Βάκχος, the Feast of Bacchus; Διονύσια, Dionúsiǎ: The god of wine. His worship had extended over the whole Greek and Roman world centuries before the Christian era, and had degenerated into an orgy of drunkenness and unnamable immoralities, possibly under the influence of oriental Baal worship, such as the Hebrew prophets condemned. It has been surmised that Dionysus was originally not a Greek, but an oriental deity. His worship had been introduced into Egypt, perhaps by the Ptolemies, and Ptolemy Philopator (222-204 BC) had branded the Jews there with his emblem, the sign of the ivy. When Antiochus Epiphanes made his assault upon Jerusalem in the year 168 BC, he determined to extirpate the worship of Yahweh, which he recognized as the strength of the Jewish resistance, and to replace it by Greek religion. All worship of Yahweh and the observance of Jewish rites, such as the Sabbath and circumcision, were prohibited. Heathen worship was set up all over Judea, and in the temple at Jerusalem on the altar of burnt offering an altar to Jupiter was erected, “the abomination that maketh desolate” (Daniel 11:31), and a swine was sacrificed upon it (see ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION). The immoral practices associated with heathen worship in those days established themselves in the temple. When this feast of Bacchus (Dionysus) with all its revelry came round, the Jews were compelled to go in procession in honor of Bacchus (Dionysus), wearing wreaths of ivy,the emblem of the god (2 Maccabees 6:7). Some years later, when the worship of Yahweh had been restored, Nicanor the general of Demetrius I, in conducting the war against Judas Maceabacus, threatened the priests that, unless they delivered Judas up as a prisoner, “he would raze the temple of God even with the ground, break down the altar, and erect there a temple unto Bacchus (Dionysus) for all to see” (2 Maccabees 14:33). See DIONYSIA.

Bacchus

Bac’chus the Latinized form, (in the Auth. Vers. at 2 Maccabees 6:7; 14:33) of the heathen deity called by the Greeks DIONYSUS SEE DIONYSUS (q.v.). The latter occurs also in (the so-called) 3 Maccabees 2:29. In all these instances this mythic deity is named in connection with circumstances which would indicate that he was an, object of special abhorrence to the Jews; for in the first it is stated that the Jews were compelled to go in procession to Bacchus; in the second, the erection of a temple to him is threatened in order to compel the priests to deliver up Judas to Nicanor; and in the third, the branding with the ivy leaf, sacred to him, is reported as inflicted on them by way of punishment. This falls in with what Tacitus says, that it was a mistake to imagine that, because the priests of the Jews accompanied their singing with flute and cymbals, and had garlands of ivy, and a golden vine was found in the Temple, they worshipped Bacchus, for that this was not at all in accordance with their institutes (nequaquam congruentibus institutis, Hist. v. 5). As Bacchus was the god of wine, and in general of earthly festivity and jollity, and as his rites sanctioned the most frantic excesses of revelry and tumultuous excitement, he would necessarily be an object of abhorrence to all who believed in and worshipped Jehovah. Probably also the very fact that some things connected with the Jewish worship had, as mentioned by Tacitus, and still more fully by Plutarch (Symposiac. 4, qu. 6), led to the supposition that they reverenced Bacchus, may have produced in their minds a more determined recoil from and hatred of all pertaining to his name. In the pagan system Bacchus is the god of wine, and is represented as the son of Jupiter and Semele, the daughter of Cadmus. His mother perished in the burning embraces of the god, whom she persuaded to visit her with his attribute of royalty, the thunderbolt; the embryo child was sewn up in Jupiter’s thigh, whence, in due time, he was produced to light. Mythology abounds with the adventures of Bacchus, the most noted of which are the transformation of the Tyrrhenian pirates, who carried him off to sell for a slave, into dolphins; his revenge on the scoffing Pentheus, and his invasion and conquest of India. Bacchus was generally figured as a young man of effeminate appearance (θηλύμορφος, Eurip. Bacch. 853; Euseb. Chron. p. 29), with a garland of ivy binding his long hair (Strabo, 15, p. 1038); in his hand he bore a thyrsus, or rod wreathed with ivy, and at his feet lay his attendant panther. His companions were the Bacchantes, the Lenae, the Naiads and Nymphs, etc., and especially Silenus. His worship seems to have arisen from that “striving after objectivity” (Wachsmuth, Hellen. Alterthumsk. 2:2, p. 113), which is the characteristic of a primitive people. The southern coast of Thrace appears to have been the original seat of this religion, and it was introduced thence into Greece shortly after the colonization by the AEolians of the Asiatic coast of the Hellespont. The admission of the identity of Osiris and Dionysus by Plutarch and other mythological theorists, as well as Herodotus’s simple statement of the assertions of the Egyptian priests to that effect, is no proof of the common origin of the worship of this divinity in Egypt and Greece; but there is no doubt that certain modifications of the Dionysiac rites took place after the commencement of the intercourse between the Ionians and the Egyptians (Penny Cyclop. s.v.). The worship of Bacchus was intimately connected with that of Demeter, and under the name of Iacchus he was adored along with that goddess at Eleusis. Virgil invokes them together (Georg. 1:5) as the lights of the universe. According to the Egyptians, they were the joint rulers of the world below (Herod. 2:123). In a cameo he is represented as sitting with her in a chariot drawn by male and female centaurs. (For a fuller account of the mythological history and attributes of Bacchus, see Creuzer, Aymbolik und Mythologie, pt. 3, bk. 3, chapter 2 of Moser’s Abridgment.)

Dionysus

Dionysus (/daɪ.əˈnaɪsəs/; Greek: Διόνυσος, Dionysos) is the god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine, of ritual madness, fertility, theatre and religious ecstasy in Greek mythology. Wine played an important role in Greek culture with the cult of Dionysus the main religious focus for unrestrained consumption. His name, thought to be a theonym in Linear B tablets as di-wo-nu-so (KH Gq 5 inscription), shows that he may have been worshipped as early as c. 1500–1100 BC by Mycenean Greeks; other traces of the Dionysian-type cult have been found in ancient Minoan Crete. His origins are uncertain, and his cults took many forms; some are described by ancient sources as Thracian, others as Greek. In some cults, he arrives from the east, as an Asiatic foreigner; in others, from Ethiopia in the South. He is a god of epiphany, “the god that comes,” and his “foreignness” as an arriving outsider-god may be inherent and essential to his cults. He is a major, popular figure of Greek mythology and religion, becoming increasingly important over time, and is included in some lists of the twelve Olympians. Dionysus was the last god to be accepted into Mt. Olympus. He was the youngest and the only one to have a mortal mother. His festivals were the driving force behind the development of Greek theatre. He is sometimes categorised as a dying-and-rising god.