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  • 1 Université La Sapienza di Roma, Italia
  • 2 CIRICE – Centro Interdipartimentale di Ricerca sull'Iconografia della Città Europea, Napoli, Italia
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In the Greek world, the celebrations of Dionysus were different: the Rural Dionysia and the City Dionysia, the Lenee, the Antestèrie, the Oscofòrie, the Ascalia and the Bacchanalia. During the Bacchanalia, women ran, danced and screamed in the woods, and fell prey to Dionysian inebriation. In 186 BC, the Roman Senate issued a decree that limited the cult of Bacchus Dionysus in Rome and in Italy, because of sexual abuses (see Livy, Ab Urbe condita 39. 8 – 39. 18). The diffusion of Bacchanalia was a risk for people and for the dignitas of Rome. In 1640 in Tiriolo, Calabria, during the excavation for the foundations of the so-called Palazzo Cicala, a bronze inscription and fragments of columns were found; the inscription had the original text of Senatus Consultum de Bacchanalibus with which, in 186 BC, the Roman Senate forbade the Bacchanalia. In Latium, during the excavation of the so-called Domus delle Pitture in Bolsena, directed by the École Française de Rome, between 1964 and 1982, a fragment of a throne's base and a cherub's leg were found in a layer of ashes in an underground room. Another 150 pieces of the throne, including ribbons and fragments of a panther head, were recovered in a specific spot of the room. Fragments, carefully restored and reassembled, compose an object called Trono delle Pantere of Bolsena, datable between the end of the 3rd century BC and the early years of the 2nd century BC. The left and rear sides are better preserved. The first represents a panther sitting on a throne with a cherub on his knees while it grabs at the ears of beast; the rear side represents a pattern with wings blocked by ribbons. The front side is completely destroyed. The throne has different sets of problems on its religious meaning and its decoration, where the Dionysiac theme is clear. The panther, the cherubs and the ribbons recall the Dionysus sphere, during which he was hidden inside a cave. Indeed, the underground room of Bolsena was appropriated to Bacchanalia. This paper intends to link Tiriolo and Bolsena, through the specific cases of two cities; in the first we have a proof of the enforcement of the law in 186 BC, and in the second we have an evidence of its application, with the destruction of a throne and of a Bacchic shrine.

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