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It premiered posthumously at the Theatre of Dionysus in BC as part of a tetralogy that also included Iphigeneia at Aulis and Alcmaeon in Euripidsand which Euripides’ son or nephew is assumed to have directed. The Bacchae is concerned with two opposite sides of human nature: This side is sensual without analysis, it feels a connection between man and beast, and it is a potential source of divinity and spiritual power.

The Bacchae seems to be saying that it is perilous to deny or ignore the human desire for Dionysian experience; those who are open to the experience will find spiritual power, and those who suppress or repress the desire in themselves or others will transform it into a destructive force.

The tragedy is based on the Greek myth of King Pentheus of Thebes and his mother Agaveand their punishment by the god Dionysus who is Pentheus’ cousin. The god Dionysus appears at the beginning of the play and proclaims that he has arrived in Thebes to avenge the slander, which has been repeated by his aunts, that he is not the son of Zeus.

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In response, he intends to introduce Dionysian rites into the city, and he intends to demonstrate to the king, Pentheus, and to Thebes that he was indeed born a god.

By the end of the play, there is the horrible and gruesome death of the king and the wrecking of the city of Thebes by euripiide destruction of its ruling party and by the exiling of its entire population. Dionysus will further cause the plundering of a number of other cities. In The Bacchae there are two completely different versions of Dionysus. First there is the god as he is described by the chorus, which is the god of wine and uninhibited joy and instinct.

However, Dionysus also appears as a bacchantees on the stage, has come for revenge, and is never like this. He is instead deliberate, plotting, angry and vengeful. The Bacchae is considered to be not only Euripides’ greatest tragedy, but one of the greatest ever written, modern or ancient. The extraordinary beauty and passion of the poetic choral descriptions indicate that the author certainly knew what attracted those who followed Dionysus.

And the vivid gruesomeness of the punishment of Pentheus suggests that he could also understand those who were troubled by the religion. Then, at the end of the 19th century the opposite idea began to take hold; euriide was thought that Euripides was doing with The Bacchae what he had always done, pointing out the inadequacy of the Greek gods and religions.

The Dionysus in Euripides’ tale is a young god, angry that his mortal family, the royal house of Cadmushas denied him a place of honor as a deity. His mortal mother, Semelewas a mistress of Zeus who while pregnant, was killed by Hera, who was jealous of her husband’s affair. When Semele died, her sisters said it was Zeus’ will and accused her of lying; they also accused baccantes father, Cadmus, of using Zeus as a coverup.

Most of Semele’s family refuse to believe Dionysus is the son of Zeus, and the young god is spurned in his home. Bacchantds has traveled throughout Baxchantes and other foreign lands, gathering a cult of female worshipers Maenads or Bacchantes. At the play’s start he has returned, disguised as a stranger, to take revenge on the house of Cadmus. He has also driven the women of Thebes, including his aunts, into an ecstatic frenzy, sending euripdie dancing and hunting on Mount Cithaeronmuch to the horror of their families.


Complicating matters, his cousin, the young king Pentheushas declared a ban on the worship of Dionysus throughout Thebes.

The play begins before the palace at Thebes, with Dionysus telling the story of his birth and his reasons for visiting the city. Dionysus explains he is the son of a mortal woman, Semele, and a god, Zeus. Dionysus reveals that he has driven the women of the city mad, including his three aunts, and has led them into the mountains to observe his ritual festivities.

He has disguised himself as a mortal for the time being, but he plans to vindicate his mother by appearing before all of Thebes as a god, the son of Zeus, and establishing his permanent cult of followers.

Dionysus exits to the mountains, and the chorus composed of the titular Bacchae enters. They baacchantes a choral ode in praise of Dionysus. Euripjde Tiresias, the blind and elderly seer, bacchabtes.

He calls for Cadmus, the founder and former king of Thebes. Bacchates to find the two old men in festival dress, he scolds them and orders his soldiers to arrest anyone baccahntes in Dionysian worship, including the mysterious “foreigner” who has introduced this worship.

Pentheus intends to have him stoned to death. The guards soon return with Dionysus himself in tow. Pentheus questions him, both skeptical of and fascinated by the Dionysian rites. Dionysus’s answers are cryptic. Infuriated, Pentheus has Dionysus taken away and chained to an angry bull in the palace stable.

But the god now shows his power. He breaks free and razes the palace with an earthquake and fire. Dionysus and Pentheus are once again at odds when a herdsman arrives from the top of Mount Cithaeron, where he had been herding his grazing cattle.

He reports that he found women badchantes the mountain behaving strangely: The herdsmen and the shepherds bacchhantes a plan to capture one particular celebrant, Pentheus’ mother. But when they jumped out of hiding to grab her, the Bacchae became frenzied and pursued the men. The men escaped, but their cattle were not so fortunate, as the women fell upon the animals, ripping them to shreds with their bare hands.

The women carried on, plundering two villages that were further down the mountain, stealing bronze, iron and even babies. When villagers attempted to fight back, the women drove them off using only their ceremonial staffs of fennel.

They then returned to the mountain top and washed up, as snakes licked them clean. Dionysus, still in disguise, persuades Pentheus to forgo his plan to defeat and massacre the women with an armed force.

He says it would be better first to spy on them, while disguised as a female Maenad to avoid detection. At this point, Pentheus seems already crazed by the god’s power, as he thinks he sees two suns in the sky, and believes he now has the strength to rip up mountains with his bare hands. He has also begun to see through Dionysus’ mortal disguise, perceiving horns coming out of the god’s head. They exit to Cithaeron.

A messenger arrives to report that once the party reached Mount Cithaeron, Pentheus wanted to climb an evergreen tree to get a better view and the stranger used divine power to bend down the tall tree and place the king in its highest branches.


Then Dionysus, revealing himself, called out to his followers and eurkpide out the man in the tree. This drove the Maenads wild.

Led by Agave, his mother, they forced the trapped Pentheus down from the tree top, ripped off his limbs and his head, and tore his body into pieces. After the messenger has relayed this news, Agave arrives, carrying her son’s bloodied head. In her god-maddened state, she believes it is the head of a mountain lion.

She proudly displays it to her father, Cadmus, and is confused when he does euripiide delight in her trophy, but is horrified by it.

Les Bacchantes d’Euripide, for… | Details | AllMusic

Agave then calls out for Pentheus to come marvel at her feat, and nail the head above her door so she can show it to all of Thebes. But now the madness begins to wane, and Cadmus forces her to recognize that she has destroyed her own son. As the play ends, the corpse of Pentheus is reassembled as well le is possible, the royal family devastated and destroyed.

Agave and bacfhantes sisters are sent into exile, and Dionysus decrees that Cadmus and his wife Harmonia will be turned into snakes and leads a barbarian horde to plunder the cities of Hellas. The ancient Greek concept of religion was very different from the concept as it is generally known today.

The Greek gods did not demand worship. Lew they merely demanded to be recognized and accepted as a part of lds human experience.

In the play’s climactic plot construction, Dionysus the protagonist instigates the unfolding action by simultaneously emulating the play’s author, costume designer, choreographer and artistic director. Foleywriting of the importance of Dionysus as the central character and his effect on the play’s structure, observes: In this protodrama Dionysus, the badchantes of the theatre, stage-directs the play.

At the play’s start, Dionysus’ exposition highlights the play’s central conflict: Until the late 19th century, the play’s themes were considered too gruesome to be studied and appreciated. It was Nietzsche ‘s ” Birth of Tragedy ” in that re-posed the question of Dionysus’s relation with the theatre and awakened interest in The Bacchae.

Dionysos et la tragédie : Le dieu homme dans les Bacchantes d”Euripide

In the 20th century, performances became quite fashionable—particularly in bacchantes, due in part to the dramatic choruses found throughout the story. Winnington-Ingram said of Euripides’ handling of the play: Easterlinget al. The Bacchae had an enormous impact on Roman literature. It seems to have been one of Horace ‘s favorite tragedies.

The tragedy’s influence can be seen in the writings of Henrik Ibsen[42] as well as Thomas Mann ‘s novella Death in Venice [43] and Oliver Stone’s film Alexander. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article’s tone or style may euripidr reflect the encyclopedic tone used on Wikipedia. See Wikipedia’s guide to writing better articles for suggestions. September Learn how and when to remove this template message. For the film, see The Bacchae film. For the fantasy film, see The Bacchantes film.

The Internet Classics Archive | The Bacchantes by Euripides

The Bacchae and Other Plays. Bacchae; Plays of Euripides. Euripides and His Age. Applause Theatre Book Publishers. Epstein, Daniel Mark, translator.

University of Pennsylvania Press. Euripides and Dionysus, an Interpretation of the Bacchae. Ten Plays by Euripides. Moses Hadas and John Mclean. Bantam Books,p. Rolandsson, Ottiliana, Pure Artistry: Archived from the original on 22 April Retrieved 9 May