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Bacchanalia

The Bacchanalia were wild and mystic festivals of the Roman god Bacchus. Introduced into Rome from lower Italy by way of Etruria (c. 200 BC), the bacchanalia were held in secret and attended by women only, on three days in the year in the grove of Simila[?] near the Aventine Hill, on March 16 and 17. Subsequently, admission to the rites were extended to men and celebrations took place five times a month. The notoriety of these festivals, where many kinds of crimes and political conspiracies were supposed to be planned, led in 186 BC to a decree of the Senate--the so-called Senatus consultum de Bacchanalibus, inscribed on a bronze tablet discovered in Calabria (1640), now at 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, the Bacchanalia were not stamped out, at any rate in the south of Italy, for a very long time.

The term has since been extended to refer to any drunken revelry.


Originally from an old encyclopedia



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