Bacchae Study Questions:
and Images for the Bacchae
- How does Euripides characterize Pentheus? What is his "fatal
flaw"? Why does he want to spy on the Maenads? What is the significance
of Dionysus dressing him up as a woman?
- How are the two kinds of Maenads represented in this play? Where does
each come from? How does each react to the events of the play? How are
each characterized? What are Pentheus' criticisms of their worship?
Why does he find them and Dionysus so threatening?
- What do you make of Cadmus and Teiresius? What is their role in the
play? What reasons do they give for their worship of Dionysus? How does
Pentheus react to them? Why are Cadmus and Agave punished at the end
of the play?
- What sort of god is Dionysus? How is he depicted? What are his attributes?
How does he look? Why is it appropriate that he is the god of theater
(i.e. are there any connections between wine, madness, ecstasy, sex,
dismemberment, and theater)?
- What is the role of madness in the play? How does this tragedy deal
with issues of perception?
- Is this a play about religious fanaticism or about the importance
of incorporating Dionysiac elements into the community?
- Can you find any metatheatrical moments in the play (where the play
self-consciously draws attention to itself as a play). Given that Dionysus
is the god of theater, how can this play be read as a meditation on
the nature of tragedy and theater?