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The Bacchae | Stasimon 3 | Summary

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Summary

The chorus reviews the events of the last scene with relief, relating the story in terms of a fawn escaping a hunter's net. Dionysus has escaped, and the chorus feels "like a playful fawn." Their god is now clearly in command. Those who disobey him will be punished. In other words, vengeance is for the god.

The chorus declares that men get their rights from the gods, and those men who "honour their own ruthless wills," rather than revere the gods from whom they receive their gifts, must be punished. Divine law is enshrined in nature as "long-established truth." As such, it must be privileged over human conventions.

Analysis

The refrain in this Stasimon is telling. After previously distinguishing wisdom from cleverness, the chorus now asks, "What is wisdom?" It is followed immediately by an additional, and even more challenging question for the audience:

What is finer
than the rights men get from gods—
to hold their powerful hands
over the heads of their enemies?

Wisdom is here associated with the recognition that power over one's enemies is a right derived directly from the gods. Vanquishing one's enemies brings joy. Accordingly, it is important to be appropriately thankful to the gods.

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