Dionysia (Διονύσια, Vulg. Bacchanalia), "the feast of Bacchus" (2 Macc. 6:7), which was celebrated, especially in later times, with wild extravagance and licentious enthusiasm (hence the term Bacchanalian). Women, as well as men, joined in the processions (θίασοι), acting the part of Maenads, crowned with ivy and bearing the thyrsus (comp. Ovid, Fast. 3:767 sq.; Broudkh. ad Tib. 3:6, 2, who gives a coin of Maroneia bearing a head of Dionysus crowned with ivy); and the phallus was a principal object in the train (Herod. 2:48, 49). Shortly before the persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes, B.C. 168, in which the Jews " were compelled to go in procession to Badchus carrying ivy" (2 Macc. 6:7), the secret celebration of the Bacchanalia in Italy had been revealed to the Roman senate (B.C. 186). The whole state was alarmed by the description of the excesses with which the festival was attended (Livy, 39:8 sq.), and a decree was passed forbidding its observance in Rome or Italy. See Smith's Dict. Of Class Antiq. s.v. This fact offers the best commentary on the conduct of Antiochus; for it is evident that rites which were felt to be incompatible with the comparative simplicity of early Roman worship must have been peculiarly revolting to Jews of the Asmonaean age (comp. Herod. 4:79). SEE DIONYSUS.

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

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