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Bronze statue of Bacchus from Pompeii , buried in AD 79, was made at the time of Augustus about 100 years earlier
Drunken Bacchus ( Michelangelo )

Bacchus is originally the Latin form of Bakchos ( ancient Greek Βάκχος ), an epithet of Dionysus , god of wine and intoxication in Greek mythology . Bacchus was used by the Romans as the name of Liber pater , the original Italian god of wine and fertility.


A corresponding epithet ( pacie ) was already in use among the Etruscans for the god Fufluns . In connection with the so-called Bacchanalia scandal in 186 BC. Suppressed cult, the names Baccha or Baca for the Bacchanten , the cult companions of the god, and Bacchanal or Bacanal for the cult celebration are initially occupied. This indicates that the corresponding terms initially meant ecstatic forms of cult, in contrast to the traditional cult celebrations of Liber .

The Mystery Villa in Pompeii depicts scenes from this cult of Bacchus / Dionysus.


Leopard (panther) and lion were sacred to Dionysus, especially the leopard with its spotted fur. Therefore, Bacchus is often depicted as an iconographic attribute together with a leopard or with leopard skin . In the post-antique reception, Bacchus became the ultimate wine god. The iconography broke away from the traditional forms, so that, for example, the depiction of “Bacchus” as a drunken old man with a wine wreath in a circle of cheerful drinkers became a popular theme. But topics from the mythology of Dionysus were also taken up, such as the encounter between Bacchus / Dionysus and Ariadne .

Many great masters of painting created pictures of Bacchus, including Leonardo da Vinci , Michelangelo, and Titian . The statue of the "drunk" Bacchus created by Michelangelo is a specialty. Cy Twombly dealt with the figure of Bacchus in an abstract, expressionistic way .

A statue of Bacchus, which adorned the fountain of a castle in the Innviertel for decades , turned out to be the last work of the Dutch sculptor Adriaen de Vries and was auctioned at Christie's in New York by the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam for 22.5 million euros in December 2014 .

Johann Strauss dedicated the Bachus Polka to him (1847).


  • Kevin Cline: Bakchos. In: The New Pauly (DNP). Volume 2, Metzler, Stuttgart 1997, ISBN 3-476-01472-X , Sp. 408-411.
  • Andreas Emmerling scale: Bacchus in the Renaissance (= studies on art history. Volume 83). Olms, Hildesheim 1994, ISBN 3-487-09805-9 .
  • Ulrich van Loyen, Gerhard Regn: Dionysus. In: Maria Moog-Grünewald (Ed.): Mythenrezeption. The ancient mythology in literature, music and art from the beginnings to the present (= Der Neue Pauly . Supplements. Volume 5). Metzler, Stuttgart / Weimar 2008, ISBN 978-3-476-02032-1 , pp. 230–246.
  • John Scheid: Bacchus. In: The New Pauly (DNP). Volume 2, Metzler, Stuttgart 1997, ISBN 3-476-01472-X , column 390 f.
  • Christoph Schmitt: About remembering in the court art of Alfonso d'Este. An art historical attempt on the theory of cultural memory using the example of allegorical-mythological paintings. Dissertation, University of Hamburg 2005 ( online )

Web links

Commons : Bacchus  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Bacchus  - Sources and full texts
Wiktionary: Bacchus  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Paul Larisch: The furriers and their characters . Self-published, Berlin 1928, p. 59.
  2. Innviertler Bacchus brought in 22.5 million euros,, December 12, 2014