Reference > Brewer’s Dictionary > Bacchus [wine].

E. Cobham Brewer 1810–1897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
Bacchus [wine].
In Roman mythology the god of wine. He is represented as a beautiful youth with black eyes, golden locks, flowing with curls about his shoulders and filleted with ivy. In peace his robe was purple, in war he was covered with a panther’s skin. His chariot was drawn by panthers.   1
   The famous statue of Bacchus in the palace of Borghese (3 syl.) is represented with a bunch of grapes in his hand and a panther at his feet. Pliny tells us that, after his conquest of India, Bacchus entered Thebes in a chariot drawn by elephants.   2
   The Etruscan Bacchus was called Esar or Nesar; the Umbrian Desar; the Assyrian Issus; the Greek Dion-ysus; the Galatian Nyssus; the Hebrew Nizziz; a Greek form was Iacchus (from Iach, a shout); the Latin Bacchus; other forms of the word are the Norse Eis; the Indian Ies; the Persian Yez; the Gaulish Hes; the German Hist; and the Chinese Jos.   3
“As jolly Bacchus, god of pleasure,
Charmed the wide world with drink and dances,
And all his thousand airy fancies,
Alas! he quite forgot the while
His favourite vines in Lesbos’ isle.”
   Bacchus, in the Lusiad, is the evil demon or antagonist of Jupiter, the lord of destiny. As Mars is the guardian power of Christianity, Bacchus is the guardian power of Mohammedanism.   4
   Bacchus sprang from the thigh of Zeus. The tale is that Sem’el asked Zeus to appear before her in all his glory, but the foolish request proved her death. Zeus saved the child which was prematurely born by sewing it up in his thigh till it came to maturity. The Arabian tradition is that the infant Bacchus was nourished during infancy in a cave of Mount Meros. As “Meros” is Greek for a thigh, the Greek fable is readily explained.   5
   What has that to do with Bacchus? i.e. what has that to do with the matter in hand? When Thespis introduced recitations in the vintage songs, the innovation was suffered to pass, so long as the subject of recitation bore n the exploits of Bacchus; but when, for variety sake, he wandered to other subjects, the Greeks pulled him up with the exclamation, “What has that to do with Bacchus?” (See HECUBA, MOUTONS.)   6
   Bacchus a noyé plus d’hommes que Neptune. The ale-house wrecks more men than the ocean.   7
   A priest of Bacchus. A toper.   8
        “The jolly old priests of Bacchus in the parlour make their libations of claret.”—J. S. Le Fanu: The House in the Churchyard, p. 113.
   A son of Bacchus. A toper.   9



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