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The Bacchae is an example of classical Greek tragedy at its finest, and is one source of our modern-day word “bacchanalia” (a drunken orgy or feast). The god Dionysus returns to his birthplace in Thebes, angry about his mother’s murder and the failure of the Theban people to offer him sacrifices. Dionysus, accompanied by his band of followers, decides to inspire discord and deviousness among the Thebans. One by one, he lures the Theban women away from the city into the forest, where they engage in frenzied, intoxicated worship. The Theban ruler Pentheus, not realizing that the women’s wild actions are divinely inspired, thinks they are purposefully breaking social and legal rules. He orders his soldiers to arrest Dionysus, the stranger who has just arrived in the city and who seems to be the source of the problem. But Pentheus doesn’t realize that he is falling into the god’s elaborate trap. After hearing conflicting stories about the women in the forest Pentheus finally decides that he wants to see them for himself—a wish that Dionysus is happy to grant. This tragic play dramatizes the clash between order and disorder, chaos and restraint, barbarianism and civility.
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Opening Lines (Experimental)
DIONYSUS, THE GOD; _son of Zeus and of the Theban princess Semele_.
CADMUS, _formerly King of Thebes, father of Semele_.
PENTHEUS, _King of Thebes, grandson of Cadmus_.
AGAVE, _daughter of Cadmus, mother of Pentheus_.
TEIRESIAS, _an aged Theban prophet_.
A SOLDIER OF PENTHEUS' GUARD.
Reviewed by tobyrumpus on Jan 5, 2009
Lessons to be learnt
Gripping stuff - both sad and cautionary. Wimmins liberation is nothing new, but what good does it do them? Don't piss-off gods either, or tempt fate if you are agnostic - hubris can be a terrible thing. On a technical note it is wonderful to see how a play can develop by describing actions off-stage - I am sure there is an expression for this - but given the limitations of the Greek staging, it works well here.
One couldn't help but imagine the backcloth to be a vast landscape by Claude Lorraine of mountains, sea and distant palaces.
A ripping (literally and figuratively!) yarn - pity about the missing pages.
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Ratings for 'The Bacchae' by Euripides