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The Cult of Bacchus

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Ali Rosenberg

on 26 March 2013

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Transcript of The Cult of Bacchus

The Cult of Bacchus in ancient pompeii Ali Rosenberg
Professor Parslow
CCIV 234
April 2, 2013 Bacchus Bacchus (Roman); Dionysus (Greek); Liber (Italic)
god of wine and revelry •“…He disquieted, tormented and released pent-up feelings. He sent a wind of madness through the town. But at the same time, homeopathically, by music and shouting, drinking wine and eating raw meat, he also healed the deep-seated violence that is ordinarily repressed by family, civic and social discipline…He put worries to sleep through intoxication, but awakened Ariadne from the sleep of abandonment and death. God of the dance and the vital spirit, he also embodied lethargy and languor. Apparently contradictory, and at all events disconcerting, he swooped suddenly with his band of followers like a lighting epidemic, a destroying hurricane, plucking women out of the houses and driving the whole city out of its mind.”

– Robert Turcan, The Cults of the Roman Empire Complaints Against the Cult “When wine had inflamed their feelings, and night and the mingling of the sexes and of different ages had extinguished all power of moral judgment, all sorts of corruption began to be practiced, since each person had ready to hand the chance of gratifying the particular desire to which he was naturally inclined.”

– Livy • (usually) upper-class Romans took offense to cult practices
• Livy: drinking/feasting, false witness, forged documents, perjured evidence, poison, murder, violence, shrieking, drums, cymbals, debauchery, bloodshed
• men indistinguishable from women – threat to Roman sense of manliness, virtus
women given too much freedom “To regard nothing as forbidden was among these people the summit of religious achievement.”

– Livy Outlawing the Cult Livy's account of Publius Aebutius and consul Postumius
consuls hold inquiry; suspects questioned
Postumius' address: fears debauchery, effeminacy, foreign rites
186 B.C.: cult outlawed by senate decree Punishment ringleaders: Marcus and Gaius Antinius, Lucius Opicernius, & Minucius Cerrinius of Campania
Minucius Cerrinius imprisoned
name known from Pompeii
Temple at Sant' Abbondio 1 mile SE of the city walls
no major road connected it to city - rustic
Samnite temple, late 3rd/early 2nd century
Doric tetrastyle (49' x 27')
2 triclinia in front, with altar in between
ramp leads to pronaos, which leads to cella Inscriptions on the Temple • Oscan inscription on altar honors Maras Atinius (aedile of Samnite Pompeii)

• Oscan inscription on floor of ramp:

• terminus post quem for dating of the building Pediment of the Temple built of tufa in high relief
2 divinities reclining at banquet
Bacchus (left): holds kantharos, grapes
Ariadne-Venus (right): lifts her veil in a wedding gesture
may represent divine union of Bacchus and Venus Temple Renovations last period of city: walls and columns covered in heavy coats of stucco
pronaos enclosed by screen with attached benches
damaged in earthquake, repaired by eruption
significant because Pompeii continued to renovate temple after senate decree Other Depictions Around City deity (with Mercury) that appears most frequently
in paintings, family shrines, taverns, & graffiti
appears in Temples of Isis and Apollo
House of the Centenary
Villa of the Mysteries House of the Centenary Villa of the Mysteries very large house on edge of city
Maiuri: dates from Samnite era
Richardson: middle of 2nd century B.C.
economy of villa based on wine
courtyard full of jugs for fermentation
wine press at NE corner of peristyle Wine and the Pompeian Economy viticulture; wine = chief crop
fertile soil of Campania good for growing vines and fruit
homes decorated with paintings of grapes and Bacchus
majority of Vesuvian villas had wine-making facilities
sacrifices made to Liber (Bacchus) as part of wine-making process Domestic Worship in Pompeii not standardized; different households had different patron deities
15 household shrines had images of Bacchus
not found anywhere but Campania
family worship not one of revelry or drunkenness
Bacchus protected the city's grape crop Sources Coarelli, Filippo, ed. Pompeii. New York: Riverside Book Company, 2002. Print.Dobbins, John J., and Pedar W. Foss, eds. The World of Pompeii. New York: Routledge, 2007. Print.Gazda, Elaine K., ed. The Villa of the Mysteries in Pompeii: Ancient Ritual, Modern Muse. Ann Arbor: Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, 2000. Print.Grapes, Pompeii. Art of Fresco. Web. 21 Mar. 2013. <http://www.artoffresco.com/02-Portfolio/02.2-Still-Lives/grapes.html>.Inside the Roman senate. Milken Community High School Wiki. Milken Community High School. Web. 21 Mar. 2013. <http://wikis.milkenschool.org/Z_-_Archives/Verba_Diei_Wiki/Roman_Senate>.Jashemski, Wilhelmina F. The Gardens of Pompeii. New Rochelle: Caratzas Brothers, 1979. Print.Livy. Ab Urbe Condita. Trans. H. Bettenson. New York: Penguin, 1976. Print.Orti, Gianni Dagli. Photograph of a model of the Temple of Bacchus. DijitalImaj. Web. 21 Mar. 2013. <http://www.dijitalimaj.com/alamyDetail.aspx?img={3FBF60C9-E793-4642-B5EF-235E71D34A3C}>.Otto, Walter F. Dionysus, Myth and Cult. Trans. Robert B. Palmer. Dallas: Spring Publications, 1981. Print.Peterson, Roy Merle. The Cults of Campania. Rome: Luigi Alfieri, 1919. Print.Photograph of Bacchus, the Roman god of wine. The Culture Concept. Culture Concept Circle. Web. 21 Mar. 2013. <http://www.thecultureconcept.com/circle/wine-women-and-song-a-tripartite-motto-for-all-time>.Photograph of Villa of Mysteries fresco, room 5. Aurora History Boutique. History Blog. Web. 21 Mar. 2013. <http://blog.aurorahistoryboutique.com/tag/cult-of-bacchus/>.Richardson, Lawrence. Pompeii: An Architectural History. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University, 1988. Print.Scullard, H. H. Festivals and Ceremonies in the Roman World. Ithaca: Cornell University, 1981. Print.Titian. "Bacchus and Ariadne." Philolog: Classical Connections. Stanford University. Web. 21 Mar. 2013. <http://traumwerk.stanford.edu/philolog/2006/10/titians_bacchus_and_ariadne_15.html>.Turcan, Robert. The Cults of the Roman Empire. Trans. Antonia Nevill. 1989. Cambridge: Blackwell, 1996. Print."Villa of the Mysteries in Pompeii." Art and Archaeology. Web. 21 Mar. 2013. <http://www.art-and-archaeology.com/timelines/rome/empire/vm/villaofthemysteries.html>.Vitruvius. The Ten Books on Architecture. Print. Senate Decree found on a bronze tablet in S. Italy “Let none of them be minded to maintain a place of Bacchic worship. Should there be any who say that they must maintain a place of Bacchic worship, they must come to Rome to the urban praetor, and about these matters, when their words have been heard, our Senate shall make a decision, provided that no less than 100 senators be present when this matter is deliberated. Let no man, (whether) Roman citizen or anyone of the Latin name [i.e., those enjoying ius Latii, a restricted form of citizenship] or of the allies, be minded to attend a meeting of Bacchic women unless they go to the urban praetor and he gives permission with the approval of the Senate, provided that no less than 100 senators be present when this matter is deliberated...

Let no man be a priest. Let not anyone, neither man nor woman, be a master; nor let any of them be minded to keep a common fund; nor let anyone be minded to make either man or woman a master or a vice-master, nor be minded henceforth to exchange oaths or vows or pledges or promises with one another; nor be minded to plight faith with one another. Let no one be minded to perform ceremonies in secret, nor let anyone be minded to perform ceremonies, either in public or in private or outside the city, unless he goes to the urban praetor and he gives permission in accordance with the will of the Senate, provided no less than 100 senators be present when this matter is deliberated...

Let no one be minded to hold services in a group larger than five persons, men and women together, and let no more than two men and three women be minded to be present there among (them), except by authorization of the urban praetor and the senate, as is written above...

That you proclaim this at a public meeting for a period of not less than three market days and be cognizant of the Senate’s decree, such was their decree. If there were any who acted contrary to what is written above, they decreed that a capital charge should be made against them. And that you have this engraved on a bronze tablet, the Senate considered proper, and that you order it to be fastened up where it can most easily become known; and that those places of Bacchic worship, if there are any, except if there is anything sacred (there), just as is written above, should be dismantled within ten days of the delivery of this letter.” Livy's Account from Ab Urbe Condita "The next task entrusted to the consuls was the destruction of all shrines of Bacchic worship, first at Rome and then throughout Italy, except in places where an ancient altar or statue had been consecrated. For the future it was provided by decree of the Senate that there should be no Bacchanalia in Rome or in Italy. If any person regarded such ceremonies as hallowed by tradition and as essential for him, and believed himself unable to forgo them without being guilty of sin, he was to make a declaration before the city praetor, and the praetor would consult the Senate. If permission were granted to the applicant, at a meeting attended by at least a hundred members of the Senate, he would be allowed to perform the rite, provided that not more than five people took part; and there was to be no common fund of money, no president of the ceremonies, and no priest."
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