Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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Dionysus, the classical god of wine, for whom Bacchus was the more common name among the Romans. However, grapes and vines are not his only attributes, and neither is wine the only aspect of his cult.

Although some scholars have argued that wine is a secondary element in his cult and the god Dionysus was a late importation from the east, he is a wine god, an Olympian, and an important influence on Ancient greece. The earliest festival known to be devoted to Dionysus, the three-day feast of the Anthesteria, is a wine festival. It gives its name to the spring month of Anthesterion and celebrates the broaching of the new wine (the wine of the most recent vintage, which was always kept until the next spring). Clay tablets dating from the late Bronze Age (c.1200 bc), connect Dionysus with wine, and thus provide further evidence for the early cult of Dionysus as a wine god.