The Library of History

Page 117

Page 117 First Birth: The Second, when it shoots forth Branches, and puts forth Fruit, and brings them to Ripeness and Perfection; and so the First Birth of this God is to be judg'd to proceed from the Earth, and the Second from the Vine it self.

The Fabulous Writers likewise feign a Third Generation of Bacchus, that he was the Son of Jupiter and Ceres, and that some Men of the Earth pull'd him in Pieces, and boil'd his Parts; and that Ceres gather'd his Members together again, and renew'd and reviv'd him. Which Fictions the natural Philosophers explain according to natural Reason; for he is said (they say) to be the Son of Jupiter and Ceres, because the Vine is nourish'd by the Earth, and the Rain from Heaven, and so produces Fruit; whence comes Wine, by pressing of the Grape. That the boyling of his Members, signifies the manner of ordering the Wine, which many boyl to make it more strong and fragrant. That his Members were pull'd in pieces by Earthly Men afterwards, and join'd together again, and he restor'd to his former State, denotes no more, but that after the Vintage and pruning of the Vines at the season of the Year, the Earth causes them to flourish again, and to be as fruitful as ever they were before. For it's certain, that by Ceres the ancient Poets and other Fabulous Authors meant the Mother Earth: And agreeable hereunto, are those things that are deliver'd in the Verses of Orpheus, and which are exhibited in the celebration of the Sacred Mysteries, which it is not lawful for any ordinary Person particularly to treat of.

In the same manner the Naturalists explain his being the Son of Semele; for they say, that the Earth was by the Ancients call'd Thion and Semele;Semele, because the Worship of this Goddess was splendid and pompous; and Thyon from the frequent Sacrifices which were offered to her.

He is feign'd to be begotten of Jupiter, Twice, because it being suppos'd that the Vines with other Plants, were destroy'd in Deucalion's Flood, and that it afterwards sprung up again, therefore when this God appear'd again, as if he had sprung up by a Second Birth, he was feign'd to be born out of Jupiter's Thigh. And these are the Opinions of them, who take Bacchus for nothing else but the use and strength found out to lye in Wine.

But those Fabulous Authors that say this God was a Man, unanimously attribute to him the finding out and first planting of the Vine, and every thing that belongs to the use of Wine. But whether there were more than one of that Name, they differ among themselves. Some affirm there was but One, and this very Bacchus who taught the use of Wine, and gathering of Grapes, and with an Army overran the whole World, and first instituted the Rites and Festivals of the Bacchanalia. Some (as I have before declar'd) have affirm'd, that there were Three that liv'd at several times, and have given an Account of the Actions of each of them.

Of whom (they say) the most ancient was born in India, and therefore in regard that Country (through the Temper of the Climate, and richness of the Soil) naturally produc'd Vines, they affirm he was the first that taught the way of pressing of Grapes, and found out the use of Wine; and imploy'd himself likewise in pruning of Fig-Trees, and other Fruit Trees of a larger size, and taught others the same Art: And in Conclusion, that he found out whatever appertain'd to the Vine. And hence he was call'd the Presser, and the Bearded, because it is the Custom among the Indians to let their Beards grow all their Days without cutting them.

This they say, is the Bacchus which overran the whole World with his Arms, and found out the manner of Planting of Vines, and the pressing of Grapes with Wine-Presses (and thence was surnam'd Leneus, as before) and imparted what he had discover'd to others; by which Advantages he so gain'd the Hearts and Respects of all Men, that when he was dead, they ador'd him with Divine Honours. At this day they shew the Place of his Birth in India, and many Cities there in their own proper Language, call'd after his Name. Many other things they relate of this Indian Bacchus, which is too tedious here to rehearse.

Bibliotheca Historica

The first five books