Ch11Underworld

Ch11Underworld - Classics 10: Chapter 11: Fall 2011 Myths...

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Classics 10: Chapter 11: Fall 2011 Myths of Death: Encounters with the Underworld [Dionysus and Tragedy: Euripides’ Bacchae ] I. The Greek View of Death II. Odysseus Visits Death’s Realm III. Orpheus and Eurydicê IV. Plato and Virgil: Teaching from Hell
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Euripides’ Bacchae Pentheus is about to go out with a force to capture the women, but Dionysus ensnares him with his own desire (lines 810-816) “Would you like to go watch?” “Yes.” “Would you really enjoy a thing that so disgusts you?” “Yes, if I hid, unnoticed, under a tree.” Pentheus wants to watch voyeuristically that which he condemns as base Pentheus’ own dark desire reveals his inner psychology, and thus the hypocrisy of his earlier position is revealed
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Euripides’ Bacchae Euripides seems to have focused his telling of the story to emphasize this point in Pentheus’ pyschology Remember that a written version of a myth is subject to its author’s designs Thus even though Euripides is a major source for Dionysus in Greece, his play ultimately tells us more about Euripides’ aims than about the importance of the myth for the average Greek Yet the average Athenian seems to have greatly enjoyed this play (it won first prize)
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Euripides’ Bacchae Dionysus helps disguise Pentheus as a woman and leads him away submissively Dionysus even adjusts Pentheus’ hair! Pentheus thus comes to resemble exactly that which he had earlier condemned and mocked When they get to the woods, Pentheus wants a really good view so Dionysus puts him atop a pine tree Undone by his desire to see what he claims to loathe Dionysus then invokes his Bacchae to avenge themselves against Pentheus
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Euripides’ Bacchae A messenger reports that the Bacchae pulled down the tree and tore Pentheus into pieces His aunts rip his arms off His own mother, Agavê, pulls off his head Agavê then comes on stage with Pentheus’ head on her thyrsus She is then brought back to her senses and shown what she has done Her punishment for slandering her sister Semelê Pentheus’ punishment for denying the power of Dionysus when he himself wanted to experience it
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Euripides’ Bacchae The play ends as a moral tale: Do not deny the power of the gods, and especially the god of the irrational, for he is part of our nature Dionysus presented as having every right to violently destroy anyone who denies his power Euripides acknowledging that reason alone cannot define Athens? Nor save it? For Euripides, is Athens itself Pentheus? What is the limit of reason? Are there things that myth can teach us that history cannot?
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The sparagmos of Pentheus, 480 BCE
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Chapter Eleven Myths of Death: Encounters with the Underworld
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I. The Greek View of Death Greeks mostly believed in a life after death, but it was a bleak vision Happiness to be found in actions of life on earth Humans are the victims of the forces larger than
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This note was uploaded on 11/30/2011 for the course CLA 10 taught by Professor Traill during the Fall '08 term at UC Davis.

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Ch11Underworld - Classics 10: Chapter 11: Fall 2011 Myths...

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