The Library of History

Page 129

Page 129 too tedious particularly to recite, and likewise foreign from the Design of this History.

They held that he had two Faces, because there were two Dionysus's, the ancient Dionysus, who always wore a long Beard, because all in ancient time let their Beards grow; and this later Bacchus who was a spruce young Man, as we have before declar'd. But some say, that a double Countenance was assign'd him, because of the two special Qualities wherewith Drunkards are affected, being either raging mad, or transported with Mirth.

They say likewise that he carry'd Satyrs along with him, who by their dancing and skipping in his Sports and Plays made the God exceeding merry. To conclude, as the Muses pleas'd and delighted him with the Knowledge of the liberal Sciences, so the Satyrs with their Tricks and antick and ridiculous Gestures and Actions compleated the Happiness and Comfort of his Life.

It's reported likewise he invented Plays, and set up Theaters, and instituted Musick Schools, and freed all Musicians that went along with him in his Expeditions from publick Taxes; and hence it is, that Posterity (after the Example of Dionysus) have created Societies of Musicians, and decreed that all of that Profession should be free.

But that we may keep within due Bounds, we shall here put an end to our Discourse concerning Bacchus, and his Actions in Ancient times.

And now since what is anciently reported of Priapus is (as we conceive) pertinent to this History of Bacchus, we shall here proceed to give an Account of him.

The Ancients feign that Priapus was the Son of Bacchus and Venus, induc'd thereunto by a probable Argument, which is this, That when Men are drunk they are naturally prone to Venery; and some say, that when the ancient Mythologists would name a Man's Yard, they call'd it Priapus; and therefore that the privy Parts (because they are the Instruments of Generation, and support the constant and continual Succession of Mankind) have receiv'd divine Honour.

The Egyptians tell this Story concerning Priapus; They say that the Titanes in ancient times treacherously assassinated Osiris, and divided his Members into equal Parts, and that every one privately carry'd away a Part out of the Palace, only his privy Members they threw into the River, because none would meddle with them: But Isis (they say) after a diligent Inquiry made concerning the Murder of her Husband, and having reveng'd his Death upon the Titanes; by conjoyning his dismember'd Parts, reduc'd them to a humane Shape, and deliver'd the Body to the Priests to be bury'd, and commanded that Osiris should be ador'd as a God, and appointed the Shape of his privy Member (which only was wanting and could not be found) to be set up as a sacred Relict in the Temple, and to be honour'd likewise as a Deity: And these are the Things which the ancient Egyptians feign concerning the Original and divine Worship of Priapus. Some call this God Ithyphallus, others Typhon. He's not only worshipp'd in the Temples in the Cities, but in the Fields and Villages, where he is reputed the Guardian and Keeper of their Vineyards and Orchards, and say that if any steal their Goods he inflicts Punishment upon them for it. This God is not only honour'd in the Festivals of Bacchus, but in all other sacred Solemnities, where with Sport and Ridicule his Image is presented to the View of all.

They feign likewise that Hermaphroditus had the like Original, who being sprung from Hermes and Aphrodita, was from their two Names joyn'd together so call'd. Some say that this Hermaphroditus is a God, who at some certain times appears to Men, and is naturally both Man and Woman; in Beauty and Slenderness of his Body he represents a Woman, but in Strength and manly Countenance, a Man. Others account these Births for Monsters, which being but rare, portend sometimes both Good and Bad by turns; but enough of these.

Here it's fit to say something of the Muses (of whom some mention is made in the History of Bacchus.) Most of the Writers of Antiquities, and those of greatest Authority, say they were the Daughters of Jupiter and Mnemosyne. Some few of the Poets (among whom is Alcman) say they were the Issue of Coelus and Terra. They differ likewise about their Number, for some reckon three, others nine; but the Number Nine by the Authority of the most famous Authors (such as Homer, Hesiod, and some others of the like Esteem) has prevail'd before all others. For thus says Homer—

Bibliotheca Historica

The first five books