Unformatted text preview: Euripides’ Bakkhai Bakkhai Wednesday, July 30 Thebes Thebes Cadmus, founder of Thebes Sowed dragon’s teeth from which a race of men sprung (cf. Jason), called Spartes (“sown ones”) Confused them by throwing a stone at them They fought until five remained These five were the fellow founders of Thebes Cadmus Family Tree Cadmus Semele Semele Dionysus Dionysus Hera’s trick Baby Dionysus born from Zeus’ thigh Bacchus in Latin Dionysus Dionysus Considered foreign in Greek tradition but actually predates Greek civilization Foreign in character God of wine and ecstasy Acting, music, poetry Effeminate Carries a thyrsus and a wine cup Wears a leopard skin Crowned with ivy Associated with snakes Cult of Dionysus Cult
Mystery religion Mysteria = rituals Sparagmos: ritual tearing of flesh Omophagy: eating of flesh Open to anyone (democratic?) Liberating Frieze at Pompeii Frieze Pentheus Pentheus Name = “grief”, “pain” (note the puns, e.g. p.424) Pentheus as sacrifice (p.422) Summary Summary Dionysus explains his purpose in returning to Thebes: “To end the lies told by Semele’s own sisters [Agave and Autonoe].” (p.370) Chorus Kadmos and Tiresias converse – they are participating in the worship of D. Pentheus arrives and denounces Dionysus Summary continued Summary
Dionysus is captured and questioned by Pentheus Dionysus escapes Herdsman comes to tell of women’s activities in the mountains – dispels rumors of orgies and indecency; speaks of miracles Pentheus wants to see for himself, so Dionysus dresses him up like maenad Summary continued Summary Dionysus put Pentheus up in a tree so he can see the maenads Dionysus then offers Pentheus up to the women Agave, Pentheus’ mother, comes home home proudly carrying his head on her thyrsus, thinking she’s killed a lion The whole family is exiled Dionysus and Gender Gender
Often depicted as effeminate Disrupts the normal social categories In the Bakkhai, this effeminacy is indicative of a hidden power In the end Pentheus is playing the woman Playing the Other Playing Men play women’s roles Within the play Pentheus dresses up like a woman before he can be the sacrifice (pp.4089) Bakkhai Bakkhai Also Bacchae, Bacchantes, Maenads Worshippers of Dionysus What happens when women behave like men? behave Nursing animals The maenads go on a raid (p.400) Agave kills Pentheus Women Outside the Oikos Oikos Dionysus: “I’ve emptied Thebes of her women, but only her women, and I control their madness. They perch high up on the bare rocks, the wellborn and the dirt poor.” (p.371) Chorus: “Pulling the women free of their looms, their minds stung wild by Bakkhos.” (p.374) Women Outside the Oikos Oikos continued continued Pentheus: “Word reached me that something new and evil is at work here. It harms our women, who desert their families to prowl out there in the mountain forests.” (p.379) Death of Pentheus Death Dionysus and Jesus Dionysus
Calls himself “son of god” Comes disguised as a man (p.372) Not recognized by his own people Female followers Associated with wine Blood Breaking/tearing and eating of flesh Miracles Centrality of faith Dionysus and Jesus continued Dionysus Travel to convert people Led to leaders, by whom they are questioned They both go quietly (p.386) They and their followers escape (p.387, p.395) Earthquakes (p.394 ff.) Questionable births parthenogenic Dionysus and Jesus continued Dionysus Death and rebirth Birthday = December 25 Both talk about God/god in third person yet claim to be God/god too Both bear similarities to Osiris, as well Similar Passages Similar
About the captured maenads: “All the shackles let go of their ankles, the locked bolts loosened and dropped off the doors with no blow from any human hand. That stranger brings so many miracles to Thebes he overflows with them.” (p.387) When Paul is in prison at Philippi: “Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose.” (Acts 16:25) More on Rhetoric More Tiresias: “A man who persuades us because his speech is poised and aggressive, is a civic menace when he lacks judgment.” (p.380) Kadmos is cast as a sophist (cf. Jason) – note his argument for accepting Dionysus’ claims of divinity – warns Pentheus against committing hubris (p.382) ...
View Full Document