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DIONYSIA.

.everywhere, only modified by the national differ­ences of the various tribes of the Greeks. It is expressly stated that the Spartans did not indulge so much in drinking during the celebration of the Dionysia as other Greeks. (Athen. iv. p. 156 ; Plato, De Leg. i. p. 637.) The worship of Dio­nysus was in general, with the exception of Co­rinth, Sicyon, and the Doric colonies in southern Italy, less popular among the Doric states than in other parts of Greece. (Muller, Dorians, ii. 10. § 6 ; Bottiger, Ideen z. Archaeol. der Malerei, p. 289, &c.) It was most enthusiastic in Boeotia in the orgies on Mount Cithaeron, as is well known from allusions and descriptions in several Roman poets. That the extravagant merriment, and the unrestrained conduct with which all fes­tivals of this class were celebrated, did in the course of time lead to the grossest excesses, cannot be denied; but we must at the same time acknow­ledge, that such excesses did not occur until a comparatively late period. At a very early period of Grecian history, Bacchic festivals were so­lemnized with human sacrifices, and traces of this custom are discernible even until very late. In Chios this custom was superseded by another, according to which the Bacchae were obliged to eat the raw pieces of flesh of the victim which were distributed among them. This act was called wfAotyayia, and Dionysus derived from it the name of w/xti5ios and w/x^o't^s. There was a report that even Themistocles, after the battle of Salamis, sacri­ficed three noble Persians to this divinity. (Pint. Themist. 13, Pelop. 21; compare Thirl wall, Hist, of Greece, ii. p. 310.) But Plutarch's account of this very instance, if true, shows that at this time such savage rites were looked upon with horror.

The worship of Dionysus, whom the Romans called Bacchus, or rather the Bacchic mysteries and orgies (Bacchanalia), are said to have been introduced from southern Italy into Etruria, and from thence to Rome (Liv. xxxix. 8), where for a time they were carried,on in secret,, and, during the latter period of their existence, at night. The initiated, according to Livy, did not only indulge in feasting and drinking at their meetings, but when their minds were heated with wine, they indulged in the coarsest excesses and the most unnatural vices. Young girls and youths were seduced, and all modesty was set aside ; every kind of vice found here its full satisfaction. But the crimes did not remain confined to these meet­ings: their consequences were manifest in all direc­tions ; for false witnesses, forgeries, false wills, and denunciations proceeded from this focus of crime. Poison and assassination were carried on under the cover of the society ; and the voices of those who had been fraudulently drawn into these orgies, and would cry out against the shameless practices, were drowned by the shouts of the Bac­chantes, and the deafening sounds of drums and cymbals.

The time of initiation lasted ten days, during which a person was obliged to abstain from all sexual intercourse ; on the tenth he took a solemn meal, underwent a purification by water, and was led into the sanctuary (Bacchanal). At first only women were initiated, and the orgies were cele­brated every year during three days. Matrons alternately performed the functions of priests. But Pacula Annia, a Campanian matron, pretending to act under the direct influence of Bacchus,

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DIONYSIA.

changed the whole method of celebration: she admitted men to the initiation, and transferred the solemnisation which had hitherto taken place during the daytime to the night. Instead of three days in the year, she ordered that the Bacchanalia should be held during five days in every month. It was from the time that these orgies were car­ried on after this new plan that, according to the statement of an eye-witness (Liv. xxxix. 13), licentiousness and crimes of every description were committed. Men as well as women indulged in the most unnatural appetites, and those who at­tempted to stop or to oppose such odious pro­ceedings fell as victims. It was, as Livy says, a principle of the society to hold every ordinance of god and nature in contempt. Men, as if seized by fits of madness, and under great convulsions, gave oracles ; and the matrons, dressed as Bac­chae, with dishevelled hair and burning torches in their hands, ran down to the Tiber and plunged their torches into the water ; the torches, how­ever, containing sulphur and chalk, were not ex­tinguished. Men who refused to take part in the crimes of these orgies, were frequently thrown into dark caverns and despatched, while the perpe­trators declared that they had been carried off by the gods. Among the number of the members of these mysteries, were, at the time when they were suppressed, persons of all classes ; and during the last two years, nobody had been initiated who was above the age of twenty years, as this age was thought most fit for seduction and sensual pleasure.

In the year b.c. 186, the consuls Spurius Pos-tumius Albinus and Q. Marcius Philippus were informed of the existence of these meetings ; and after having ascertained the facts mentioned above, they made a report to the senate. (Liv. xxxix. 14.) The senate, alarmed by this singular dis­covery, and although dreading lest members of their own families might be involved, invested the consuls with extraordinary power, to inquire into the nature of these nocturnal meetings, to exert all their energy to secure the priests and priestesses, to issue a proclamation throughout Rome and Italy, forbidding any one to be initiated in the Bacchic mysteries, or to meet for the purpose of celebrating them ; but above all things, to submit those individuals who had already been secured to a rigid trial. The consuls, after having given to the subordinate magistrates all the necessary instructions, held an assembly of the people, in which the facts just discovered were explained to the public, in order that the objects of the pro­ceedings which were to take place might be known to every citizen. A reward was at the same time offered to any one who might be able to give further information, or to name any one that be­longed to the conspiracy, as it was called. Mea­sures were also taken to prevent any one from leaving Italy. During the night following, a great number of persons were apprehended ; many of them put an end to their own lives. The whole number of the initiated was said to be 7000. The trial of all those who were apprehended lasted thirty days. Rome was almost deserted, for the innocent as well as the guilty had reason to fear. The punishment inflicted on those who were con­victed, varied according to the degree of their guilt; some were thrown into prison, others were I put to .death. The women were surrendered to.

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