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Pentheus and Dionysus

1. In what ways are Pentheus and Dionysus different? In what ways are they similar? Pentheous and Dionysus are first cousins who remain different because one is a god and the other mortal. Pentheous is the headstrong mortal king of Thebes who uses strength and power and acts as a moral opposite the Dionysus who otherwise uses his ability to offer pleasure to his loyal followers. Both figures are spiteful and believe in revenge as a means to punish those who choose not to follow. 2. Why does Pentheus see Dionysus as a threat to civilisation?

Pentheus sees Dionysus the god of deviant instinctive passion as a threat to the mainstream, ordered old fashioned society that Pentheus resides over. 3. To whom is Dionysus dangerous? Basically any of those who don’t follow the values and principles that Dionysus applies. Also those who refuse to recognise his power and divinity. He represents to have the power to level a city, not with his divine powers but by the insanity of his deranged followers. 4. Does Euripides’ tragedy provoke criticism of Dionysus? I don’t think it does entirely.

The criticism is not that of Dionysus, but of the community that allows him to pursue and influence it. It is more a criticism of the cult and Euripides demonstrates this with characters that interact with Dionysus. Pentheus who acts against him, Agave who follows him and the Bacchae who worship him. 5. The Bacchants was first performed in 406 BC. Briefly discuss the theoretical and historical context in which the play was first performed. In what ways might Euripides be using the myth in this context to reflect upon his view of Athenian and or Greek society?

The Bacchants was first performed to an audience who pride themselves on upholding the values of their society which had been founded on the morals of Apollo. In a time when war was rife, such as with Sparta i think Euripides uses Dionysus experience to voice his opinions on his Greek society and the political problems that they faced. Another political issue being the evolution of the role of females in greek society. Euripides, Bacchae, 373 – 375 S. L. Harris & G. Platzner, Classical Mythology fifth edition