The Bacchae


The dynamic personalities of Euripides’s Bacchae all serve allegorical purposes within the play’s lines: to represent social orders within ancient Greek culture. The interactions between these characters send a clear message to the audience regarding the practices of healthy society, and the harsh repercussions that result from straying too far from these practices. Pentheus and Dionysus are figureheads for the two main schools of thought represented in the text, respectively order (or constraint) and disorder (or freedom). The two figureheads differ in the rigidity of their ideologies; Pentheus stands for far stricter ideals, believing that there is no place within society for anything other than absolute order, while Dionysus understands the need for both order and disorder in society. The fierce opposition between Pentheus and Dionysus thus represents both a struggle between order and disorder and a struggle of flexibility within the social regime. Dionysus’s clear defeat of Pentheus and his stifling system of order suggests that a society completely devoid of a semblance of disorder and freedom will inevitably tear itself apart. Euripides uses the character of Dionysus, superior in his wisdom because of his divinity, to...

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