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The Bacchae

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  7,491 ratings  ·  237 reviews
From the renowned contemporary American poet C. K. Williams comes this fluent and accessible version of the great tragedy by Euripides.

This book includes an introduction by Martha Nussbaum.
Paperback, 144 pages
Published August 23rd 1990 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published -405)
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Count No Count
This, dear friends, is a chilling reminder of why I seldom attend parties.
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
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
This is the greatest Greek play I have read. I am just speechless. The way Euripides crafted this play was words can give it justice. The rising intensity, the characters, the writing. I'll leave the rest of my thoughts for my actual review Just wow.
top ten why Dionysus is better than jesus.

10. he is the god of wine

9. he prefers night time.

8. his groupies are ladies.

7. He steals all the town's ladies

6. old dudes think he's awesome

5. when they arrest him he makes an earthquake, who needs to turn the other cheek.

4. he has his cousin torn to pieces by his followers

3. He convinces his cousin's mother she is carrying a mountain lion head and she parades her son's head through the village

2. He doesn't need 10 reasons he beat jesus at reason o
Po Po
Totally insane story.

For those who believe that videogames, TV shows and films are making us all a little more violent -- I present to you this classic play written somewhere between 485 and 406 BC. It contains unapologetic and gratuitous violence. Just for shits n giggles. This is open to interpretation, but I find that the point of this play is to reveal two messages: (1) "Don't mess with higher powers" or you'll die. And (2) humans are bloodthirsty (yes, this is a pessimistic and unpopular v
Dey Martin
I read this as a pdf from the Internet archive. Actually had to pull another version from Yale for the ending which was missing from the IA version. Two very different translations too. One very Shakespearian and the other rather straight and laking theatrical flair. I prefer the Shakespeare-y version.

I see direct parallels with the story of Jesus in Dionysus' birth and later in shedding his Godness, and manifesting as a human to walk among men. The way Dionysus speaks of his own Godliness when
A masterpiece of translation: clear, easy flowing, direct and effective. What story could be more timely, than this horrific pageant of irrationality and slaughter? Added bonus: excellent preface and introduction. Highly recommended as a gripping, thought provoking engagement with Classical Greek drama.

What is wisdom?
The greatest gift of the gods is honor:
900to reach your hand in triumph up
over the heads of the enemy.
Honor is everything.
Lucky is the man who escapes a storm at sea
and finds
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
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
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
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
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
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
Carla D.
Opinião completa no blog Pepita Mágica:

Não é das minhas tragédias favoritas, de longe, mas não deixa de ser interessante e incrivelmente bem estruturada. Confesso que adoraria ter visto a representação destas peças (e falo não apenas d’As Bacantes, mas também de Medeia, Oresteia, Rei Édipo, entre outros) tal como eram levadas à cena na Antiguidade, naqueles teatros fantásticos da época. É sempre bom conhecer um pouco da história da Humanidade, e eu s
Okay, so more stood out to me about Euripides than this particular play. Perhaps it's because I can imagine henderson acting out the actions so many times, know what happens (as the greeks themselves must have -- at least, the general outline), etc. But in storyline and method of action it felt like another nicely writ, clean-cut greek tragedy. You know, with the tragic hero[es], their fatal flaw, punishment beyond what is warranted, recognition/reversal, offstage spectacle... (catharsis less so ...more
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
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
Alor Deng
Very nice play. This great quote comes from it:

"We all compete for wealth and power, and
for every thousand hearts a thousand hopes.
Some wither, some bear fruit.
But the one who lives from day to day,
finding good where he can:
he is happy
he is a lucky man."

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
damn euripides that end was pretty savage
Es tan buena que no me dejó ganas de hablar de ella.
Okay, most of Greek tragedy basically appeals to our desire to see horribly gory things happen to somebody. That's not necessarily a Biblical emotion, even if it is in a classic work. (Hey I used four words that all begin with 'i' in a row. Must be something special!)

So, the Bacchae. By now the themes of Greek tragedy are getting redundant, almost as if all the Greek tragedians took an oath to uphold the orthodoxy that man dies, fortune is fickle, and the gods will cut you down. The Bacchae vari
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This text was specifically tailored for performance 1 9 Feb 19, 2013 12:55PM  
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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 about Euripides...

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