Classical Mythology
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Classical Mythology

CLA 2-216-2001

Bacchae Study Questions:

  • Background 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?

Last Update: Sept. 30, 2001
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