Bacchanalia History
Bacchanalia History
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Official Restriction of Cult
Pontifex Maximus
Roman Women
Hispala the courtesan
Bon Dia
Cato the Censor
Costly Victory
Caesar's Triumphs
Baalbeck Temple of Bacchus
Franz Cumont
Roman Timeline [36 -79 AD]
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 Cato the Censor (234 BC - 149 BC) 
issued many warnings about the innumerable quack astrologers and magicians coming to Rome in and around 200-150 BC.

But the influence of the quack astrologers was far outweighed by the influence of the knowledge accumulated by Greek astronomers, and the Romans were enormously impressed by scientific achievements. When Marcellus conquered Syracuse in 212 BC, and returned to Rome with a magnificent model of the celestial spheres which he had found in the house of Archimedes (killed when the city fell), it was greatly admired - and used. Cato would eventually learn Greek as well. Starting in the middle of the second century BC, in every aspect of the private culture of the upper classes, Greek culture was increasingly in ascendancy, in spite of tirades against the "softening" effects of Hellenized culture from the conservative moralists. By the time of Augustus, cultured Greek household slaves taught the Roman young (sometimes even the girls); chefs, decorators, secretaries, doctors, and hairdressers—all came from the Greek East.  

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Cato Quotes
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Cato the Younger  (95 BC–46 BC), known as Cato the Younger to distinguish him from his great-grandfather Cato the Elder, was a politician and statesman in the late Roman Republic, and a follower of the Stoic philosophy. He is remembered for his legendary stubbornness and tenacity especially in his lengthy conflict with Julius Caesar, as well as his immunity to bribes and famous distaste for corruption.
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Bacchus on Roman Coins

Bacchus, with his attributes, is more frequently found on colonial imperial coins; especially on those struck in Syria and Phoenicia, by most cities of which regions he was worshipped, on account of his traditional expeditions to the East.
Besides Apamea, in whose mintages the Indian Bacchus appears, the God of Wine is seen on several coins of Berytus, mostly dedicated to Gordianus Pius.

On a brass coin dedicated at Damascus, to Trebonianus Gallus, Bacchus under the figure of a young man, stands naked, on a plinth, holding a vine tendril in each hand. His image on this coin shows that he was worshipped by the inhabitants of Damascus, in whose terrority he was said to have originally planted the vine.

Dictionary Of Roman Coins

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45 BC In order to return festivals to their original position Julius Caesar made his most significant contribution to world history, among many -- the Julian calendar. Caesar employed the Egyptian astronomer Sosigenes to work out a new 12-month calendar based upon 12 months and 365.25 days. The new calendar set abandons the lunar cycle.
The first Roman year began in the month of March (named after Mars), when the earth begins to spring to life again after winter. This made September the seventh month of the year. In Latin, Septembris, Octobris, Novembris and Decembris (September, October, November, and December) mean the 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th month respectively. When Julius Ceasar changed the Roman calendar in 46 BC he made January the first month, and did not change the names of the months or their relative order. He coined the names of 8 months leaving the four misnamed as a deference to a successor or perhaps to help insure his memory whenever the question is asked.

April is named after Aphrodite. May is named for the Goddess Maia and June, for Juno. The fifth month, Quintilis, was named Julius (July) to honor Julius Caesar. And the sixth month, Sextilis, was renamed Augustus in honor of the second Caesar.

The oldest Roman calendars only contained the ten months   Januarius (named for Janus, the Roman God of doors) and Februarius were added to the calendar. Februarius came from a Latin word meaning, "to purify" and this month of purification was shortened or lengthened in order to fit the solar year.

It solved the 1/4 day by making every 4th year being a leap year or adding an extra day every four years. The matter of a year actually having an additional 11 minutes  beyond solar year length every calendar year would not be resolved till the middle of the sixteenth century when these added minutes had accumulated to point that Christian festivals were not being observed during their original time frames.

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Pontifex Maximus
At the head of Rome's religion was the Pontifex Maximus, who, when Rome became a republic, had replaced the Etruscan king in this role. Under the Pontifex Maximus was a college of priests, who were called pontiffs. They were officers of the government in charge of handling Rome's relations with the supernatural. It was their duty to keep the city on good terms with the gods by preserving religious traditions and by making sure that every important act of state was sanctioned by the gods, including relations with foreign communities. Priests were assigned to individual gods, and laws derived from myths governed their actions: the priest of Jupiter was forbidden to walk under an arbor of vines, touch a dead man, eat bread fermented with yeast or to go outside without his cap.
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Franz Cumont

Cumont, who also wrote The Mysteries of Mithra was a Belgian scholar who specialized in the study of ancient religion. Topics include the cults of the Magna Mater, Cyblele, Isis, Astarte, Mithrism and Zoroastrianism, as well as a study of astrology and how it became part of Roman beliefs wiki/

Mysteries of Mithra, by Franz Cumont (English translation) at

The Oriental Religions in Roman Paganism, by Franz Cumont (English translation) at

Astrology and Religion Among the Greeks and Romans, by Franz Cumont at

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The ancient Roman calendar had only ten months and started the year on 1 March. It was dedicated to Roman God of War, Mars who was honored daily with parades of the priests of Mars dancing through the streets. The culmination of the year end celebration was March 16 and 17th which were the feast days of Bacchus which was how Dionysus was known throughout the Roman empire. Fear of a powerful non-roman religious hierarchy resulted in restrictions by Senate decree in 186 AD which were not repealed until Julius Caesar was in power. Into this vacuum flowed numerous other cults whose mythic stories often replayed the great cosmic drama of life-death-rebirth. The backdrop was the Mediterranean and particularly the world's first great PortoDaPedra Rio 2005multicultural community of Rome.

Today, as above, we continue to use the symbol of a festive baby for our commemoration of New Year's. Meanwhile, for those cities fortunate to have an annual Carnaval parade, your most likely find the best repository for the ancient rhythms and dances of the rite which celebrates rebirth in this cosmic dance.

Neo-Platonism [wiki], attempted the reconciliation of the antiquated religions with the advanced moral and intellectual ideas of its own time by spiritual interpretation of outgrown cult stories and cult practices several times over the course of history including the change from Christianity to the Roman Catholic Church. Yet the tension between Apollo and Dionysos-Bacchus has never been far below the surface, as revelations seek a communion with truth.  A powerful revitalizing force from vital Oriental religions who entered the Roman arena wtih the advent of the Great Mother of the Gods in B. C. 204 and never left despite the downfall of paganism at the end of the fourth century continues to the present. The eventual triumph of Christianity in the age of Pisces must be considered an evolution in these mysteries.

The Great Mother and Attis, with self-consecration, enthusiasm, and asceticism; Isis and Serapis, with the ideals of communion and purification; Baal, the omnipotent dweller in the far-off heavens; Jehovah, the jealous God of the Hebrews, omniscient and omnipresent; Mithra, deity of the sun, with the Persian dualism of good and evil, and with after-death rewards and punishments--all these, and more, flowed successively into the channel of Roman life

ROMAN EMPIRE: Dionysus, Orpheus, Attis, Serapis-Osirus Mithras and Jesus were all gods whose cult adherents believed had died and risen again. Mystery cults offered their believers access to a personal relationship with the divine that would offer them a meaningful peace in their human existence, and more importantly, a belief in a new life that transcended death in after world.  Worshippers would also experience a personal initiation or baptism in which a special ceremony would reveal secrets only to be known by members. Cult ceremonies often included hymns and ritual feasts. Most observed a calendar of yearly celebrations which might be preceded by periods of ritual preparation by members.

Senatus Consultum de Bacchanalibus
Roman, 186 B.C Bronze;
L: 27,3 cm, W: 28,5 cm

This inscription from the year 186 B. C. is the oldest surviving Senatorical Decree and an important document in the history of the Latin language.

The popularity with citizens of the Roman Empire, and their own different hierarchical nature in terms of deference paid to priests disturbed Rome's political/religious leadership. As the priests,  were often not Roman, and not of the 'best' social background it was perceived that there was an undermining of Roman values concerning gender, status and class. When cult popularity advanced  ethnically distinct groups within Rome, the Roman rulers grew concerned. Cults that refused to participate in the multicultural milieu of pagan worship like Christianity further increased Roman suspicion and raised the ire of all Roman citizens.

The organization of cults was specific and hierarchical. While some might allow any to be priest or priestess, others, such as high priests of Isis were at first limited by birth to the priestly caste based in Egypt. Most cults, including the Bacchic, were democratic in their membership allowing  women and men worshipped together regardless of ethnic or social caste.

Roman women of the senatorial elite frequently played major roles as patrons of and participants in mystery cults. While traditional Roman, public religion offered a place for women, it did not offer them much of an active role in ritual observations and, with very few exceptions, offered them no positions of religious authority. Female worshippers of Dionysus were called Bacchants and celebrations in his honor were called the Bacchanalia.

Originally the Roman initiation into the cult of Bacchus was attended by women only, on three days in the year in the grove of Simila near the Aventine Hill, around March 16 and 17. But democratic growth brought all sexes and classes into a weekly observance. The growth of the powerful female priesthood attracted the attention of the Roman Senate.

The Bacchic cult had been established in Greece for centuries and was established in Etruria and southern Italy long before Senatorial decree of 186 BCE and for some time in Rome as well.


The Roman fertility deities Liberia and Liber became synonymous with Bacchanalia  although Liberia resembled the Greek agricultural goddess Persephone more than Dionysus' wife Ariadne All three goddesses are preservers of marriage and the sacred law

Thus, the Senate's action was taken against a cult it had tolerated for a long while but whose influence was growing and whose hierarchy threatened the elite. The free participation in Dionysian rites by slaves and free, Romans and foreigners, and men and women was undermining the rank of the powerful men. The "ecstatic" practices - which included drink and an encounter with the god described in erotic language might be found unsettling or even threatening.

While much of the Roman propaganda against the cult focused on critiques of ritual practice, the Senate's edict was, in fact, directed only against the hierarchical organization of the cult. It forbade Romans to be priests. It forbade adherents to share money and property in kind. It forbade adherents to recognize the authority of Bacchic priests in their daily lives. Thus, devotees of Bacchus could get drunk and have sex as much as they liked, as long as their worship didn't create a structure of social and religious authority that members of the Senatorial elite could not control. Similarly, in the propaganda Livy reiterates attacks on the role of women in the cult, what appears to have prompted at least part of the Senatorial response was the fact that cult had begun to become popular with Roman men. Thus the existing cult structure would have permitted women authority over the lives of male adherents.

Nevertheless, as throughout the empire, the cult of Dionysus continued to remain the most practiced and popular, yet the action no doubt enhanced the advantage to rival cults. The women only cult of Bon Dia, where the name Bacchus could not be mentioned appears to have become the place for the elite women of Rome.

Official Propaganda
Burkert writes in Ancient Mystery Cults, p. 105, of Livy's testimony about the Bacchanalia of 186 B. C: "With as much explicitness as Augustan prudery would allow, he says that the initiands suffered homosexual rape."
In 186 B.C. the Roman Senate, alarmed at reports of  deterioration in the ceremonies attempted to regulate the practice throughout the country.— the so-called Senatus consultum de Bacchanalibus, inscribed on a bronze tablet discovered in Calabria (1640), now at Vienna — by which the Bacchanalia were prohibited throughout all Italy except in certain special cases which must be approved specifically by the Senate.
Hispala, a courtesan, was the chief witness the Senate used to justify their restriction. She gave this account on Bacchus mystery practices.
The Testimony of the Chief Witness
 "At first,those rites were performed by women. No man used to be admitted. They had three stated days in the year on which persons were initiated among the Bacchanalians, in the daytime. The matrons used to be appointed priestesses, in rotation. Paculla Minia, a Campanian, when priestess, made an alteration in every particular, as if by the direction of the gods. For she first introduced men, who were her own sons, Minucius and Herrenius, both surnamed Cerrinius; changed the time of celebration, from day to night; and, instead of three days in the year, appointed five days of initiation, in each month. 

"From the time that the rites were thus made common, and men were intermixed with women, and the licentious freedom of the night was added, there was nothing wicked, nothingClick! flagitious, that had not been practiced among them. There were more frequent pollution of men with each other than with women. If any were less patient in submitting to dishonor, or more averse to the commission of vice, they were sacrificed as victims.

"To think nothing unlawful was the grand maxim of their religion. The men, as if bereft of reason, uttered predictions, with frantic contortions of their bodies; the women, in the habit of Bacchantes, with their hair disheveled, and carrying blazing torches, ran down to the Tiber; where, dipping their torches in the water, they drew them up again with the flame unextinguished, being composed of native sulphur and charcoal. They said that those men were carried off by the gods, whom the machines laid hold of and dragged from their view into secret caves. These were such as refused to take the oath of the society, or to associate in their crimes, or to submit to defilement. This number was exceedingly great now, almost a second state in themselves, and among them were many men and women of noble families. During the last two years it had been a rule, that no person above the age of twenty should be initiated; for they sought for people of such age as made them more liable to suffer deception and personal abuse.

"Whatsoever may have remained to represent the original intent of the rites, regarded as Rites of Initiation, the externalities and practice of the Festivals were orgies of wine and sex: there was every kind of drunkenness and every aberration of sex, the one leading up to the other. Over all reigned the Phallus, which - in its symbolism a rebours - represented post ejaculation the death-state of Bacchus, the god of pleasure, and his resurrection when it was in forma errecta. Of such was the sorrow and of such the joy of these Mysteries".
(A E Waite, New Encyclopedia of Freemasonry)


'This Dionysiac mystery-cult,' according to the consul 'is a growing evil; its adherents grow more numerous every day it weakens loyalty to the state; it is a conspiracy; it is the sole cause of all the evils of recent years; and unless we are vigilant, it will take over the state (for that is their aim).. .'

Livy, History of Rome, Book 39.8-19. Describing the ban on Dionysan worship.
"The trouble had started with the arrival in Eturia of a Greek of humble origin, possessed of none of those numerous accomplishments which the Greek people, the most highly educated and civilized of nations, has introduced among us for the cultivation of mind and body; he dealt in sacrifices and soothsaying. But his method of infecting people's minds with error was not by the open practice of his rites and the public advertisement of his trade and his system; he was the hierophant of secret ceremonies performed at night. There were initiations which at first were only imparted to a few; but they soon began to be widespread among men and women. The pleasures of drinking and feasting were added to the religious rites, to attract a larger number of followers. When wine had inflamed their feelings, and night and the mingling of sexes and of different ages had extinguished all power of moral judgment, all sorts of corruption began to be practiced, since each person had ready to hand the chance of gratifying the particular desire to which he was naturally inclined. The corruption was not confined to one kind of evil, the promiscuous violation of free men and women; the cult was also a source of supply of false witnesses, forged documents and wills, and perjured evidence, dealing also in poisons and in wholesale murders among the devotees, and sometimes ensuring that not even the bodies were found for burial.....

"The Senate decreed that the priests of these rites, male and female, were to be sought that they should be available for the consuls [who were investigating the cult]...

"The next task entrusted to the consuls was the destruction of all shrines of Bacchic worship, first at Rome and then throughout Italy...for the future it was provided by decree of the Senate that there should be no Bacchanalia in Rome or Italy."

(Trans: Henry Bettenson, "Livy: Rome and the Mediterranean", New York, Penguin, 1976)

Livy's History of Rome: Book 39 The Bacchanalia in Rome and Italy  Translator: Rev. Canon Roberts
Rome 186 BC (Livy, Book 39, 8, 13)
%202/Ceasar%20and%20Cato.htm  CAESAR (100-44 B.C.) Plutarch translated by John Dryden

Bon Dia

Plutarch describes a famous scandal which sheds light on the cult of Bon Dia

 "I wished my wife to be not so much as suspected."
Caesar replied

"Publius Clodius was a patrician by descent, eminent both for his riches and eloquence, but in licentiousness of life and audacity exceeded the most noted profligates of the day. He was in love with Pompeia, Caesar’s wife, and she had no aversion to him. But there was strict watch kept on her apartment, and Caesar’s mother, Aurelia, who was a discreet woman, being continually about her, made any interview very dangerous and difficult.

The Romans have a goddess whom they call Bona, the same whom the Greeks call Gynaecea. The Phrygians, who claim a peculiar title to her, say she was mother to Midas. The Romans profess she was one of the Dryads, and married to Faunus.
The Grecians affirm that she is that mother of Bacchus whose name is not to be uttered, and, for this reason, the women who celebrate her festival cover the tents with vine-branches, and, in accordance with the fable, a consecrated serpent is placed by the goddess.

It is not lawful for a man to be by, nor so much as in the house, whilst the rites are celebrated, but the women by themselves perform the sacred offices, which are said to be much the same with those used in the solemnities of Orpheus. When the festival comes, the husband, who is either consul or praetor, and with him every male creature, quits the house. The wife then taking it under her care sets it in order, and the principal ceremonies are performed during the night, the women playing together amongst themselves as they keep watch, and music of various kinds going on.

As Pompeia was at that time celebrating this feast, Clodius, who as yet had no beard, and so thought to pass undiscovered, took upon him the dress and ornaments of a singing woman, and so came thither, having the air of a young girl. Finding the doors open, he was without any stop introduced by the maid, who was in the intrigue. She presently ran to tell Pompeia, but as she was away a long time, he grew uneasy in waiting for her, and left his post and traversed the house from one room to another, still taking care to avoid the lights, till at last Aurelia’s woman met him, and invited him to play with her, as the women did among themselves. He refused to comply, and she presently pulled him forward, and asked him who he was and whence he Clodius told her he was waiting for Pompeia’s own maid, Abra, being in fact her own name also, and as he said so, betrayed himself by his voice. Upon which the woman shrieking, ran into the company where there were lights, and cried out she had discovered a man. The women were all in a fright. Aurelia covered up the sacred things and stopped the proceedings, and having ordered the doors to be shut, went about with lights to find Clodius, who was got into the maid’s room that he had come in with, and was seized there. The women knew him, and drove him out of doors, and at once, that same night, went home and told their husbands the story.

In the morning, it was all about the town, what an impious attempt Clodius had made, and how he ought to be punished as an offender, not only against those whom he had offended, but also against the public and the gods. Upon which one of the tribunes impeached him for profaning the holy rites, and some of the principal senators combined together and gave evidence against him, that besides many other horrible crimes, he had been guilty of incest with his own sister, who was married to Lucullus. But the people set themselves against this combination of the nobility, and defended Clodius, which was of great service to him with the judges, who took alarm and were afraid to provoke the multitude. Caesar at once dismissed Pompeia, but being summoned as a witness against Clodius, said he had nothing toSyrian Astarte by Dante Gabriel Rosetti, 1875-7 (public domain image)  charge him with. This looking like a paradox, the accuser asked him why he parted with his wife. Caesar replied, "I wished my wife to be not so much as suspected." Some say that Caesar spoke this as his real thought, others, that he did it to gratify the people, who were very earnest to save Clodius. Clodius, at any rate, escaped; most of the judges giving their opinions so written as to be illegible that they might not be in danger from the people by condemning him, nor in disgrace with the nobility by acquitting him.

CAESAR (100-44 B.C.) Plutarch translated by John Dryden

MAIA: The Goddess honored by Bon Dia cult's is an early earth goddess which corresponds can mean either  Isis or Cybele who were prominent but the earliest earth goddess for Rome was Maia who Caesar named the month of May after in 46 BC.
Roman Timeline: 

36 BC: Rome tries to invade Persia
31 BC: Octavianus (Augustus) becomes the first emperor after defeating Mark Anthony at the battle of Actium
30 BC: Cleopatra commits suicide and Egypt is annexed to Roma
20 BC: a treaty between Roma and Persia (Parthians) fixes the boundary between the two empires along the Euphrates river (Iraq)
17 BC: the theater of Marcellus
13 BC: Augustus expands the borders to the region of the Danube
6 BC: Jesus is born in Palestine
1 AD: Roma has about one million people
2 AD: the Forum of Augustus
5 AD: Roma acknowledges Cymbeline, King of the Catuvellauni, as king of Britain
6 AD: Augustus expands the borders to the Balkans
12 AD: The last Etruscan inscription is carved
14 AD: Augustus dies and Tiberius becomes emperor
14 AD: five million people live in the Roman empire
25 AD: Agrippa builds the Pantheon
37 AD: Tiberius dies and the mad Caligula succeeds him
41 AD: Caligula is assassinated and is succeeded by Claudius
43 AD: Claudius invades Britain
46 AD: Thracia becomes a Roman province
50 AD: the Romans found Londinium in Britain
54 AD: Claudius is succeeded by Nero
58 AD: the Romans conquer Armenia
64 AD: Nero sets fire to Roma and blames the Christians for it
68 AD: March 16th (Feast of Bacchus) Nero, the last blood relative of Caesar commits suicide and is succeeded by Vespasianus
79 AD: Vespasianus is succeeded by Tito
70 AD: Tito destroys Jerusalem and Jews spread in Armenia, Iraq, Iran, Arabia, Egypt, Italy, Spain and Greece
77 AD: the Romans conquer Wales
79 AD: The Coliseum is completed.  Mt. Vesuvius erupts and Pompeii is buried under ash.
By the first century the new mysteries was flourishing among the wealthy in southern Italy, as inscriptions, wall paintings in villas, reliefs, and decorations on sarcophagi continue to show to our delight. Traveling guilds of actors that presented plays throughout the empire were organized as a religious association dedicated to Dionysus. They were considered "sacred" and granted immunity and special protection by the rulers. Dionysiacs used the term mysteries loosely for their dances and for dramatic contests (both of which were public). The dances, masquerades, banquets and accompanying revelry, and singing were the main attraction for many.
Triumphs of Caesar
Julius Caesar,  100

 88 BC: Italians are granted full citizenship
83 BC:
Sulla becomes dictator
74 BC:
Cicero enters the senate
73 BC:
Spartacus leads the revolt of the gladiators
71 BC:
Mithridates VI of Pontus is conquered by Roman general Lucius Lucullus
71 BC:
Crassus puts down Spartacus' revolt
70 BC:
Crassus and Pompey are elected consuls
69 BC:
Rome invades Tigranes' Armenian kingdom and destroys its capital, Tigranocerta
64 BC:
Syria becomes a Roman province under general Pompey (Gnaeus Pompeius)
63 BC:
Pompeus captures Jerusalem and annexes Palestine to Roma "
Ceasar was elected pontifex maximus [high priest], allegedly by heavy bribes.
62 B.C., Clodius and Caesar’s second wife, Pompeia, is involved in a scandal concerning the violation of the secret rites of Bona Dea,  and Caesar obtained a divorce, saying, “Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion.” 

60 BC: Crassus, Pompey and Caesar form a "triumvirate
, ambitious for the consulate. Against senatorial opposition he achieved a brilliant stroke—he organized a coalition, known as the First Triumvirate, made up of Pompey, commander in chief of the army; Marcus Licinius Crassus, the wealthiest man in Rome ; and Caesar himself. Pompey and Crassus were jealous of each other, but Caesar by force of personality kept the arrangement going.
59 BC: Caesar is elected consul
58 BC: Caesar begins his successful campaign to conquer Gaul

55 B.C.
, Caesar made explorations into Britain, and in 54 B.C. he defeated the Britons, led by Cassivellaunus. Pompey's wife, Caesar's daughter, dies
53 B.C.
Crassus was killed in  battle with the Parthians; and the triumvirate was dissolved
52 B.C. Caesar met his most serious opposition in Gaul from Vercingetorix, whom he defeated in Alesia By the end of the wars Caesar had reduced all Gaul to Roman control. These campaigns proved him one of the greatest commanders of all time. In them he revealed his consummate military genius, characterized by quick, sure judgment and indomitable energy.
After the First Triumvirate ended, the senate supports Pompey, who became sole consul

51 BC
: Caesar crushes revolt of Vercingetorix in Gaul
  Meanwhile, Caesar had become a military hero as well as a champion of the people. The senate feared him and wanted him to give up his army
49 BC
: Caesar crosses the Rubicon, defeats Pompey and becomes sole dictator of Rome, 
The army called for action, and on Jan. 19, 49 B.C., Caesar with the words “Iacta alea est” [the die is cast] crossed the Rubicon, the stream bounding his province, to enter Italy. Civil war had begun.
The senate fled to Capua. Caesar pursues Pompey to Greece where Pompey gathers forces far greater in number than Caesar. Caesar engages Pompey at Dyrrhachium but is forced to fall back and begin a long retreat southward, with Pompey in pursuit. This proved difficult since provisions were difficult to obtain. But after he took Gomphi, a town of Thessaly, he not only found provisions for his army, but physic too. For there they met with plenty of wine, which they took very freely, and heated with this, sporting and revelling on their march in bacchanalian fashion, they shook off the disease, and their whole constitution was relieved and changed into another habit.

48 B.C. August Near Pharsalus, Caesar camped in a very strategic location. Pompey, who had a far larger army, attacked Caesar but was routed and fled to Egypt, where he was killed.
47 BC: Caesar follows Pompey to Egypt.  He becomes involved in the politics of the Ptolemies taking the side of Cleopatra  against her brother and husband Ptolemy XII.  In an Egyptian ceremony, he marries Cleopatra, while still married to his Roman wife,  and makes her Queen.  She bears him a son named Caesarion
Caesar declared dictator for ten years  
He also restored the Festival of Bacchus to March 16 to be celebrated in conjunction with the Roman Gods of Fertility, Liber and Libera (March 17th)

On his return to Rome, where he was now tribune of the people and dictator, he had four great triumphs [victory celebrations] and pardoned all his enemies. He set about reforming the living conditions of the people by passing agrarian laws and by improving housing accommodations. He also drew up the elaborate plans (which Augustus later used) for consolidating the empire and establishing it securely.

Winter of 46 B.C.–45 B.C. he returns to Spain to defeat the revolt led by the sons of Pompey most notably Gaeus Pompeius.

Caesar's costly victory on the feast of Bacchus
 Julius Caesar:
 "The battle was fought on the feast of Bacchus, and the Pompeians were entirely routed and put to flight;
insomuch that not a man could have escaped, had they not sheltered themselves in the place whence they advanced to the charge. The enemy lost on this occasion upward of thirty thousand men, and among the rest Labienus and Attius Varus, whose funeral obsequies were performed upon the field of battle. They had likewise three thousand Roman knights killed, partly Italian, partly provincial. About a thousand were slain on our side, partly foot, partly horse; and five hundred wounded. We gained thirteen eagles, and several standards, and emblems of authority, and made seventeen officers prisoners. Such was the issue of this action.

This was the decisive Civil War victory, yet there was little mercy shown by Caesar who would not live to celebrate its anniversary.

45 BC  On his return, he celebrated a triumph, such as had never occurred before, over vanquished citizens. By his ostentatious ambition of becoming a king, and by the assumption of honours too lofty for mortal man, he incurred the hatred of many individuals, and the envy of all classes.
44 BC March 15 (the Ides of March and the Eve of the Feast of Bacchus), 44 B.C., he was stabbed to death in the senate house. His will left everything to his 18-year-old grandnephew Octavian later the emperor Augustus.

43 to 36 B.C. SECOND TRIUMVIRATE Personal alliance between Mark , Octavian and Lepidus.
    The primary purpose of this alliance was to avenge the death of Julius Caesar on the Senators who supported  Cassius and Brutus.    This was achieved by the Battle of Philippi in 42 B.C. where Mark Antony defeated the two conspirators and their armies.
After Philippi, the triumvirs divided the Roman Empire among themselves.
They shared the administration of Italy.  Mark Antony took the East including Egypt;  Lepidus got North Africa; and Octavian took Spain and Gaul.

 40 BC Second Triumvirate renewed at Brundisium

    The alliance broke down when Mark Antony married Cleopatra in 37 B.C.  Mark Antony who was married to Octavia, the sister of Octavian took up with the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra.
Thus  the political rivalry between Antony and Octavian now became a personal one as well.  Antony had also failed in an expedition against the Parthians in 36 BC which also hampered his credibility among the Roman elite.
    Lepidus was easily removed from North Africa by Octavian.  Thereafter Civil war broke out between Mark Antony and Octavian.    Octavian won the power struggle at the naval Battle of Actium in September 31 B.C.  Mark Antony and Cleopatra committed suicide in Egypt. 

Obverse, Cistophorus of Marc Antony This coin was struck in Asia in 39 BC in honor of Marc Antony.  The obverse is inscribed with the legend Marcus ANTONIVS IMPerator COnSul DESIGnatus, ITERum ET TERTium, which translated reads, ”Marc Antony, general-in-chief, consul elect for the second and third time.”  Antony is portrayed here wearing an ivy wreath which was symbolic of the god Bacchus, also known as Dionysus, the god of wine and male fertility.  Antony often fashioned himself after this god.  Upon Antony’s return from Italy to Greece in the year that this coin was struck, statues of him were erected throughout Asia Minor bearing the name Bacchus and the Athenians saluted him as this god as well.  His rival Augustus was much in the model of Apollo. See Apollo & Dionysus
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The temple of Bacchus at Baalbeck in Lebanon was built about 150 A.D. and is likely where  the celebration of mysteries occurred in the monumental development.  The temple complex was begun in 60 A.D. with the construction of the temple of Jupiter-Baal  who was identified with the Phoenician sun god Baalbeck. It was completed by Emperor Septimus Severus [193 to 211 AD] who was originally from Carthage which was founded by the great Phoenican [wiki ] traders, originally from Lebanon which dominated the seas for over a millennium before the rise of the Roman empire. Built on an ancient trade route to Syria Baalbaak is 85 kilometers from Beirut

"Baalbek, with its colossal structures, is one of the finest examples of Imperial Roman architecture at its apogee," UNESCO [wiki] reported in making Baalbek a World Heritage Site [wiki ] in 1984.

Popular Triad: Under the Roman empire the local gods simply took on Roman citizenship. Hadad became Jupiter Heliopolitanus, the great goddess was called Venus Heliopolitana and the young god of spring/fertility turned into Mercury [Hermes]. This triad was extraordinarily popular. Altars dedicated to the Heliopolitan triad are found, not only in the eastern provinces, but throughout the whole Roman world, from the Balkans to Spain, Gaul and Scotland. The best preserved temple is identified with Bacchus because of his popularity in Roman times in the region and the the carvings of grapes and opium poppies on the main door jamb and some carved Bacchic scenes. During the Byzantine period the temple of Venus was converted into a church dedicated to Saint Barbara. who is the patron saint of Baalbeck to this day.
    Near the Temple of Venus are the remains of "The Temple of the Muses", dating from the beginning of the 1st century A.D.

According to the Ministry of Tourism [ ] "Baalbeck is more than a fascinating group of ruins of awe-inspiring majesty. It is a place where east and west have met and merged, a crossroad where different influences and beliefs have come together in mutual understanding, as in Lebanon today."

Picture of Detail of Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Baalbek, Lebanon

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