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3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  5,954 ratings  ·  172 reviews
Euripides' powerful investigation of religious ecstasy and the resistance to it is an argument for moderation, rejecting the lures of pure reason as well as pure sensuality.
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Count No Count
This, dear friends, is a chilling reminder of why I seldom attend parties.
Moira Russell, I don't know why Elvis's mugshot is on the cover either.
Wait! Oh! I get it! Two weeks later, I suddenly figured out what this play means. Or anyway what it means to me, which is just as good. It's Antigone on PCP.

Antigone is about tyranny, or more broadly authority: Creon's need for order vs. Antigone's need for personal freedom. Everyone loses, Creon most of all, and your reaction to Antigone might depend partly on your feelings about authority; if you're a pro-authority type of person, your sympathies might tend towards Creon.

Here we have essential...more
Lee Harmon
For those who don’t recognize the title, this ancient Greek theater piece is about the god Dionysus, god of wine. It was first performed in Athens, in 405 BC. And for those who still don’t catch the connection to my blog, it’s this: Many of the characteristics of Jesus are shared with this frivolous Greek god, and at least one of Jesus’ miracles—turning water into wine—also seems closely related. In fact, the late Byzantine play, The Passion of Christ, drew heavily on the Bakkhai.

Greek tragedies...more
It seems that after my constant bickering about the soap-opera qualities of almost every Greek tragedy, the Bacchae would be exactly the same. Actually, I was shocked to find most (if not all) of the conventional, recycled themes in each Greek tragedy not here. It was actually one of the best plays I've ever read.

If you've ever watched True Blood and enjoyed the Maryann storyline, this play is basically the same premise. Dionysus comes to town, wreaks havoc on everything, and then dances merrily...more
David Sarkies
The Ancient Greeks had raves
2 May 2013
We actually don't have a complete copy of this play though the edition that I read attempts to reconstruct the missing sections (which is mostly at the end) because, as they say, this is a popular play that is regularly performed. This in itself is a strange statement since I have never seen it performed (in fact I have only ever seen one Greek play performed, and that was Oedipus Tyrannous and that was by an amateur theatre group). Mind you, Greek plays te...more
essentially copied straight from my very incoherent email to a friend and not at all edited for clarity, grammar or sense:

holy shit. this translation. this--holy shit. i'm wholly overcome, i read it straight through on the bus to and from my grandmother's tonight, and i can't--the LANGUAGE. the choruses. the dialogue of the theatrical parts that are so well translated that you understand exactly what is happening and i just. oh god. and then martha nussbaum wrote the introduction about balancing...more
Dionysos der als Sohn des Zeus und der Semele geboren wurde kehrt in seine Geburtsstadt Theben zurück, um sich an deren Bewohnern der Stadt zu rächen. Diese hatten seine Mutter als Ehebrecherin verschrien und ihr nicht geglaubt, als sie sagte, ihr Kind sei von Zeus. Sie verbrannte (von einem Blitz getroffen) in ihrem Haus. Das Kind wurde von seinem Vater gerettet.
Dionysos lässt daher die Frauen der Stadt in einen dionysischen Rausch verfallen. Der Herrscher Pentheus ist über das Verhalten seine...more
Am I drinking red wine while reading this? Well, yes, I am :-)

Jeez...can we say double standard??
"Whenever women at some banquet
start to take pleasure in the gleaming wine,
I say there’s nothing healthy in their worshipping."

Didn’t I say someone would release me—
or did you miss that part?"
I love the snarkiness. The translation I am reading (Ian Johnston Vancouver Island University) is very colloquial, but isn't that more fun than:
Don't you remember?
Someone, I said, would s...more
Peter Kerry Powers
I started reading this provoked by Terry Eagleton's very interesting chapter on terrorism and civilization in "Holy Terror"--a chapter in significant part devoted to the interpenetration of terror and tragedy. I was struck, oddly enough, by how our literary tastes in modernity have so profoundly shifted in our suspicion and disdain for the supernatural and the horrific. Zombies and gods or genies all alike are likely signs of literary inferiority except perhaps for the literary sophisticate who...more
Euripides doesn't reveal too much about his various characters in the Bacchae, which is odd because I think he's usually valued for exposing the emotions and humanity of his characters. Pentheus's character seems to be the most well-drawn. One thing that interested me quite a bit was how straight-laced he was, sexually. He wanted to spy on the Maenads, but he was too ashamed to be seen in town, dressed as a woman (which the Stranger told him was a requirement for the spying mission). He railed a...more
Dionysus is alternately the most awesome god ever, the most ridiculous, and the most dangerous. He seems to be the god of excess, of drunken orgies and animal instincts; but along with the sexier versions of excess comes violence and rage and emotion without logic. It is to Dionysus which can be credited the reality of ecstatic frenzy (think arms in the air, speaking in tongues type religion, but with lots and lots of alcohol). When Dionysus begins his evil plan to reveal himself to Thebes, he s...more
Dos años de estudio de griego antiguo fueron coronados con la lectura completa de Bacantes en idioma original. La experiencia nos destruyó a todos y quedamos desempleados. Pero más allá de eso, le tomé mucho cariño a esta tragedia. Lo que más me interesa, capaz, de la discusión entre fe y razón es la capacidad que tiene el texto de definirse por una y otra según quien sea el lector. Yo no soy nadie, así que para mi fue como ver una jugada de tenis infinita en la que la gravedad no colabora. Como...more
You know how sometimes you try to explain why you think a book is amazing to someone else and (s)he just flat out doesn't get it? This play is like that.

Not that you'd think it's crap. You'd probably read it with a raised eyebrow and think it was "interesting." But there's just too much conspiring against a casual reader being able to appreciate what a pupil-dilating, jaw-dropping work of art this is.

First, it's a play, written with specific artistic conventions, meant to be performed at a speci...more
The introduction to this play, in the edition I have, has a lot of great things to say about different kinds of wisdom. Maybe someday I will be able to read it for those themes. This first time through, though, I read a terrifying little horror story in which an arrogant guy challenged a pagan god and paid a gruesome penalty for it. The play is shocking and nauseating, and I can certainly applaud Euripedes' skill at creating such strong visceral moments even with most of the actual violence happ...more
I've read this before, but I just had to experience it again. I'm sure we've all had some experience with lunacy, whether in our reading or in the soft whisper of our lives. When I bring this story in to my imagination and let it grow, it becomes so horrifying that I can barely stand it. It may not be as flashy as anything modern usually is, but deep down, it cannot help but disturb. Crazy mobs? Impiety? Drunken revelry or plentiful bounty or peace from mortal woes? Or is it truly the bald-face...more
Max Maxwell
Apr 23, 2009 Max Maxwell rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who aren't easily "weirded out"
Recommended to Max by: Why, Harold Bloom, of course!
I always thought that Dionysos would've been cheerful, being so associated with wine and all. Turns out that he was a megalomaniacal, invincible demigod, intent on filling women's spirits with a crazed sort of bloodlust, whereupon they would leave their homes to rend wild animals limb from limb and eat their hot organs raw. This is the ill-fated narrative of Pentheus's attempt to capture Dionysos and kill his followers, restoring order to Thebes, the place he loves, against the will of all aroun...more
Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of Greek tragedy. But when I attempt reviews, my tongue turns to ashes in my mouth. It’s not that they’re too old (I’ve reviewed older books), nor because they’re so foundational (I’ve reviewed equally fundamental books). It’s because I strongly suspect that I just don’t get it. It strikes me that the Greek tragedians were trying to accomplish something essentially different from what I’ve come to expect from literature.

Greek tragedy has not even the slightest ele...more
I'm not sure this is the edition I read, and it makes a difference, both in the translation and the commentary.

Too many people don't recognize the importance of Tiresias in this play. His comment that the gods should behave BETTER than human beings is pretty much ignored, both in the play and in commentary.
Rosemary Reilly
Pentheus is a creep, and Dionysus is basically a jerk. Oooh, blasphemy. Honestly, is Dionysus really any better than Pentheus? Maybe it's just appropriate Greek god behaviour - after all, the son of Zeus, it's definitely in his genes to act that way...

Anyway, I should get back to writing an essay about it.

Damn right you can judge a book by its cover...especially when you're hailing the king.

"All this aggravtion ain't satisfactionin' me"- 'twas it not ever thus?
It's all set in Thebes and there's an old family quarrel. Cadmus had several daughters, one of them is the mother of Pentheus, the current king of Thebes, and another one (Semele) had slept with Zeus and gave birth to Dionysus (the Greek version of Bacchus, if this name is more common to you). So, Semele suffered a tragic death - her house was struck by Zeus' fire. Now this could have happened for several reasons, maybe the old lover didn't want her to stay alive so she couldn't tell his wife He...more
A very interesting play. There are some startling surprizes in this play. I recommend it for anyone who thinks that Jesus is the only son of God by virgin birth.
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Saw it performed. Very transgressive and violent.
Οι Βάκχες δεν είναι δράμα σεναριακών ανατροπών, αλλά είναι η τραγωδία των ακροτήτων και των πολλαπλών αντιθέσεων. Ο θεατής πληροφορείται εξαρχής το σκληρό τέλος, ώστε να μην επικεντρωθεί στο μονοδρομικό «τι», αλλά στο τεθλασμένο και σκοτεινό «πώς». Τελικά, ολόκληρο το δράμα γίνεται μια ανάτμηση της ανθρώπινης προσωπικότητας μέσα από το πρίσμα της λογικής και της μανίας, αλλά και μια ποιητολογική σπουδή στη γένεση της ίδιας της τραγωδίας.

Σχεδόν εξίσου σημαντική με την αντίστιξη θείου και ανθρωπίν...more
A strait pitiless mind
Is death unto godliness;
And to feel in human kind
Life, and a pain the less.
Knowledge, we are not foes!
I seek thee diligently;
But the world with a great wind blows,
Shining, and not from thee;
Blowing to beautiful things,
On, amid dark and light,
Till Life, through the trammellings
Of Laws that are not the Right,
Breaks, clean and pure, and sings
Glorying to God in the height!

A tempestuous tale riddled with the faults of all involved. The story was rife with conflict....more
This is a hard play to talk about. On the one hand, I think it is a good play in its own right, and Soyinka is an extremely socially and politically conscious writer. However, I think that we can't forget that this is a reworking of Euripides' The Bacchae, and I think Soyinka has lost one major element of what made Euripides' play such powerful tragedy--our eventual sympathy for Pentheus. Soyinka spends so much time building Pentheus up as the oppressive, slave-owning military dictator that it i...more
I found The Bacchae to be a brilliantly written play. On the surface it could seem as though it lacks profundity, but it provides such a commentary on human nature itself. What stood out for me were the similarities between gods and mortals in mindset, yet the differences in terms of result. Pentheus and Dionysus have some notable likenesses - as they are both wearing 'masks' (Pentheus as a manly, law-enforcing king; Dionysus as an effeminate human), and they are both hungry for power and worshi...more
Maan Kawas
A fascinating play by the ancient Greek tragedian Euripides! It is full of dramatic events and a terrible ending, namely, a mother in her intoxication, while practicing her religious rituals, kills her son, cuts his head, and brings it as a symbol of victory to be hanged on the wall. Then, with the help of her father Cadmus, she regains her sobriety and consciousness to sadly discover that she had killed her own son. What I particularly liked about this play is that it sheds light on Dionysus an...more
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(Greek: Ευριπίδης )
Euripides (Ancient Greek: Εὐριπίδης) (ca. 480 BC–406 BC) was the last of the three great tragedians of classical Athens (the other two being Aeschylus and Sophocles). Ancient scholars thought that Euripides had written ninety-five plays, although four of those were probably written by Critias. Eighteen of Euripides' plays have survived complete. It is now widely believed that wh...more
More about Euripides...
Medea Medea and Other Plays Euripides 1: Alcestis/The Medea/The Heracleidae/Hippolytus The Trojan Women Euripides V: Electra/The Phoenician Women/The Bacchae

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