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Bacchanale by Konstantin Makovski The Baccahanalia Dance

     Baccahanalia is pronounced -- bak-uh-NAIL-yuh. Bacchus (Roman) or Bakkhos (Greek) is also known as Liber Pater who was the Mythical God of Wine in Roman and Greek (Dionysus) mythology. Bacchus was the son of Zeus and the princess Semele. Bacchanalia's (festivals) were not only consecrated to Bacchus, but to all the deities, whose festival was celebrated with a kind of enthusiasm. There were of three different kinds, and called after the names of their inventors, Emmelian, Cordacian and Cycinnic.

    The most ancient of the religious dances is the Bacchic, or

Bacchanals, (Baknal) which were invented by three followers of Bacchus (Emmelian, Cordacian and Cycinnic), around 200 B.C. performed by the satyrs and bacchants in his train. The Bacchanalia's (sanctuaries) are said to have been introduced from southern Italy into Etruria, and from there into Rome at this time but out-lawed by the senate around 186 BC. The major Roman carnivals were the Bacchanalia, the Saturnalia, and the Lupercalia. Today the term Bacchanalia is also used for a drunken or riotous celebration or is used to descibe a drunken dancer or someone who is "under the influence of Bacchus.

    According to Bonnet, in his "History of the Dance," the Emmelian was grave and serious, similar to those introduced on the French stage during the last century, and known as the Sarabandes, or the "grand style of dancing." The most majestic of the Emmelians was called the Hyporchematic, which was executed to the lyre, and accompanied with the voice. The Cordacian was brisk and lively, not unlike the more modern Gavots, Passepiés and tambourin dances. The Cycinnic, so called from Cycinnis, the satyr, its inventor, was part of the grave and lively style of dancing; something after the fashion of the more modern Chacones, whose major is composed of bold and strong tunes; whilst those of the minor are soft, tender and voluptuous.

     The Festinalia, or Feasting Dances, were instituted by Bacchus at his return from Egypt. After the repast, the sound of various instruments was heard, inviting the guests to partake of another kind of entertainment. Dances of different sorts were then performed; a kind of ball was opened, wherein mirth, dexterity, and magnificence were profusely displayed. Authors are divided in their opinion in regard to the inventor of these dances. Philostrates names Comus, and Diodorus, Tersyyore (Three Jolly Fellows.) Be that as it may, certain it is, says our authority, "that we can even so early trace the origin of our modern balls. Pleasure has always been the constant pursuit of man; and though varied into a thousand different shapes, it ever was the same in its end."

Birth Place

Creation Date


Dance Type

Italy 200 B.C Bacchus Followers (Emmelian, Cordacian & Cycinnic) Feasting Dance

Posters, Lobby Cards etc.

Sheet Music Covers

Music Titles

n/a n/a $ Anacréon : Bacchanales
            Marche et Cortege de Bacchus (Delibes)

Night Clubs



n/a 1919 - Century Theatre (NY) Greece

Instructional / Exercise


Ballets / Stage

n/a n/a 1919 - Aphrodite
            1940 - Bacchanale (Salvador Dali)
            1940 - Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo



Other Related Dances of the time...

Apollo Dance Ballet Hymenaea Pyrrhic  
Bacchanalia Waltz Bracelet Labyrinth    

Dancers, Choreographers etc.


Apollo Leonide Massine Bacchus
    Q. Marcius Philippus (186 BC)
    Spurius Postumius Albinus (186 BC)

Books, Magazine Articles on the dance...



Date Published


The Art Of Dancing Ferrero, Edward 1859 Ferrero




Poets / Writers

Delibes, Leo (1836-1891) Peter Paul Rubens (1615) Cicero Konstantin Makovski
    Henryk Siemiradzki (1890) Livy 1940s - Salvadore Dali

Misc. Research Words that may be related ... to help your searches

Bacchae de Bacchanalibus Ludi Liberales Ancient Religions
Bacchantes Liber (A God / Bacchus) Mythology  
Bacchic sacra Liberlia (Mar. 17 Festival) Orgies  

Thayers Bacchus