Bacchus, known as Dionysus in Ancient Greek culture, was one of the most important gods in Ancient Roman pantheon and he was often associated with several key concepts of everyday life. One was rebirth after death; his dismemberment by the Titans and his return to life was symbolically echoed in viticulture, where the vines must be pruned back sharply, and then become dormant in winter for them to bear fruit.
The god is perhaps best known for being the god of wine. Given that this handle was most likely affixed to a vessel for holding wine, this imagery is particularly apt. The jug would have served as striking tableware during the convivium (the Roman equivalent of the Greek symposium), the most extravagant and notorious of which was possibly the Cena Trimalchionis, as recorded in Juvenal’s Satyricon.
To discover more about the cult of Dionysus please visit our relevant blog post:Dionysus: Madness, Release, and Wine.