Bacchus character jug produced by Weetman Giftware of Tunstall, England, circa 1960. Early art represents Bacchus, the lineal descendant of Dionysus, the Greek god of fruitfulness and vegetation, as a bearded man. Later, Bacchus, the son of Zeus and Semele, became for the Romans the god of wine and ecstasy, portrayed as youthful and effeminate. Bacchus' female followers wear his symbols, the ivy wreath and the vine, during their fertility dances, known as Bacchanalia, which were introduced into Rome from lower Italy. These ancient rites were well-known for their drunkenness and licentiousness. Bacchus became the object of a cult whose devotees, intoxicated with wine, often went into mystic frenzies during which they believed themselves one with their god. In 186 B.C. these infamous orgies were prohibited by Roman senatorial edict, but the Bacchanalia still continued throughout southern Italy. A grapevine forms the handle of this jug.