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Senatusconsulti de Bacchanalibus. Sive aeneae vetustae Tabulae Musei Caesarei Vindobonensis explicatio.


Napoli, Apud Felicem Muscam, 1729. Folio. Contemporary full vellum. Minor brownspotting to a few leaves, otherwise a fine and clean copy. Old owner's name removed from title-page causing very minor lack of paper. Title-page printed in red and black. Large engraved title-vignette depicting Bacchanalia. Lovely woodcut initials and numerous little vignettes in the text. A beautifully printed book with many samples of inscriptions in both Latin and Greek. (4), IIII, 221, (1) pp. + 2 large folded engraved plates. ¶ The scarce first (and only?) edition of this beautifully printed extensive treatise on the "Senatorial Decree Concerning the Bacchanalia", the notable Latin inscription from ab. 186 BC, discovered in 1640, which states the decree of the Roman Senate prohibiting Bacchanalia throughout Italy.

The ancient bacchanalia, or Roman orgy, the wild and mystic festivals of the Roman god Bacchus, or Dionysis, had spread through Italy from the Greek cities of the south and were particularly popular among the lower classes and slaves. The Italian bacchanalia were originally only for women and were held in secret two days in March. Later, on men were also included, and the celebrations took place five times a month.

When members of the elite also began to participate, the Senate was informed of it and felt that action needed to be taken. The cult was considered a threat to the security of the state, and eventually the Senate began the official suppression of the cult throughout Italy. People were severely beaten down upon, and according to Livy, or main source of knowledge about the actions taken, there were more executions than imprisonments, and many even committed suicide to avoid indictment. After the conspiracy had been quelled, the Bacchanalia survived in Southern Italy. The events that took place in connection with this decree, have received a lot of attention from scholars, partly because of their relevance to later persecutions of Christians.

The work contains both Latin and Greek inscriptions. The beautiful title-vignette with the frieze taken from the Farnese Palace in Rome is by Piccini, and the magnificent plates are by Andreas and Joseph Schmuzer (one at least after Chalco).

15 333 SEK

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