"a huge dreary tapestry showing a bacchanalian scene"

The bacchanalia were wild, alcohol-fuelled festivals in honour of the Greco-Roman god Bacchus (also known as Dionysus) who was the god of wine and mystic ecstasy. The festivals originated in Greece, but spread later to Rome. In Rome, they were initially women-only events, but men came to be included at a later date.

Depiction of Bacchus (1850)
Public DomainDepiction of Bacchus (1850) - Credit: Michelangelo Maestri

Eventually, the term bacchanalia came to be used as a description of any scene characterised by mad drunken revelry and debauchery.