Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

Bacchus, common name in Ancient rome for the classical god of wine whom the Greeks called Bacchos but, more usually, dionysus. There was no official Roman festival of Bacchus: the Roman Senate suppressed the Bacchanalia, in 186 bc because it saw them not only as a danger to the state, but also as a bacchanal in the modern sense, a scene of drunkenness and sexual licence. Bacchic poetry is verse with a vinous theme, a speciality of the arab poets. Because the Romans concentrated on the vinous aspect of this much more complex god, and possibly because the word Bacchus is considerably easier to say and spell than Dionysus, the Roman name is much more commonly used in modern times, and is regarded as a word rich in wine connotations. The United States has its Society of Bacchus for committed wine enthusiasts, and the word is used emotively around the world to conjure up various conjunctions of wine and pleasure.