The Library of History

Page 118

Page 118 Another Bacchus (they say) there was who was the Son of Jupiter and Proserpina, or as some think, of Ceres. This they say, was the first that taught how to plow with Oxen, when Men before till'd the Ground with their own Handy Labours, and invented many other things useful for the Art of Husbandry, that the Countryman might not be overlaid with his Labours. By these Advantages and Benefits to Mankind, he gain'd such Reputation and Esteem, that he was by all ador'd as a God, and Divine Worship and Solemn Sacrifices were offered in honour of him. In all his Images and Statues he was painted and ingraven with Horns, as well to signifie the nature of this Second Bacchus, as to denote how great a benefit and advantage accrew'd to the Husbandmen by the invention of the Plow.

A Third Bacchus they say, was born at Thebes in Beotia, of Jupiter and Semele, the Daughter of Cadmus; for Jupiter being in love with her, by reason of her extraordinary Beauty, is said frequently to lye with her; at which Juno was so inflam'd with Jealousy, that she resolv'd to be reveng'd upon the Girl; and to this end (minding to deceive her (she appear'd in the shape of one of her Servants, and perswaded Semele (who never suspected any finister design) that it was very fitting that Jupiter should lye with her in the same splendour, and glorious appearance as he did with Juno: Whereupon Semele over perswaded Jupiter, that he would honour her in his Addresses in the same manner as he did Juno; upon which he visited her in Thunder and Lightning, which kill'd the young Lady, causing her to miscarry; and Jupiter forthwith clapt up the Infant within his Thigh, and when he was come to the full time of his Birth, he convey'd him to Nysa in Arabia, where being nurs'd by Nymphs, he was call'd from his Father and the Place Dionysus. Being a very Beautiful Young Man, he spent the time of his Youth in Dancing, Plays, and all manner of Sports and Pleasures with Young Women.

Afterwards he got together an Army of Women arm'd with Launces, and adorn'd with Garlands of Flowers, and marcht with 'em through all Parts of the World, teaching Men his Mysterious Rites and Ceremonies, yet imparting them only to those that liv'd virtuously and piously. He every where likewise instituted Festival Days, and General Meetings for Sports and Dancings, and compos'd Differences both in Cities and Countries; and instead of Wars and Seditions, establish'd Peace and Concord amongst them. And when the noise of his coming to any Place was spread Abroad, and how kind he was to all, and how great a Benefactor he was in improving and civilizing the Manners of Men, they ran out flocking from all Parts to receive him. But some few Proud and Impious Persons despis'd him, and gave forth that he carry'd * Women along with him to gratify his Lusts, and that he taught his Rites and Ceremonies, meerly to commit Whoredom with strange Women; but of these he took a speedy Revenge; for whenever he exerted his divine power in punishing the Wicked, sometimes he struck them with Madness, and at other times caus'd them to be torn in pieces by the Hands of the Women; and sometimes by his Sovereign Skill in Martial Affairs, caus'd his Enemies suddainly to be Slain. For instead of the Launces, he ordered his Bacchides to carry Darts wrapt round with Ivy at the Points, with which (on a suddain and unexpectedly) they assaulted and wounded to Death the Kings that were ignorant of the Stratagem, and therefore despis'd and contemn'd them, because they were Women.

Amongst them that were punish'd by him, the most considerable and eminent were Pentheus the Grecian, and Myrrhanus the Indian King, and Lycurgus of Thrace. For Bacchus intending to transport his Forces out of Asia into Europe made a League with Lycurgus King of Thrace, whose Country was wash'd by the Hellespont. As soon as Bacchus had transported his Bacchides into the Country, one of his Allies (as he thought Lycurgus) commanded his Souldiers to set upon Bacchus and all his mad Crew in the Night, and to cut them all off. Of which Bacchus being inform'd by one of the Inhabitants, call'd Tharops, he was no little amaz'd, because he had but a few with him, the Strength of his Army being on the other side of the Hellespont; upon which he himself secretly pass'd over to his Army: But Lycurgus in the mean time cut the throats of all his Bacchides that were left behind, in a Place call'd Nisius. As soon therefore as Bacchus had transported his Forces, he fought the Thracians, and overcame them; and having taken Lycurgus Prisoner, first pluck'd out his Eyes, and after he had put him to all sorts of Torments

Bibliotheca Historica

The first five books