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Pentheus has banned the wild, ritualistic worship of the god Dionysos. A stranger arrives to persuade him to change his mind. Euripides’ electrifying tragedy is a struggle to the death between freedom and restraint, the rational and the irrational, man and god.


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Pentheus has banned the wild, ritualistic worship of the god Dionysos. A stranger arrives to persuade him to change his mind. Euripides’ electrifying tragedy is a struggle to the death between freedom and restraint, the rational and the irrational, man and god.

30 review for Bakkhai (Oberon Classics)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Count No Count

    This, dear friends, is a chilling reminder of why I seldom attend parties.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sean Barrs

    Dionysus is my favourite ancient Greek god. Why? Because he is the coolest, simple as. “He is life's liberating force. He is release of limbs and communion through dance. He is laughter, and music in flutes. He is repose from all cares -- he is sleep!" - The Young Bacchus by Caravaggio, 1595. Not only is he the god of theatre (a huge passion of mine) but he is also the god of wine, festivals, ecstasy and madness. Every set of self-respecting Gods needs one like him on the team. In a way he repr Dionysus is my favourite ancient Greek god. Why? Because he is the coolest, simple as. “He is life's liberating force. He is release of limbs and communion through dance. He is laughter, and music in flutes. He is repose from all cares -- he is sleep!" - The Young Bacchus by Caravaggio, 1595. Not only is he the god of theatre (a huge passion of mine) but he is also the god of wine, festivals, ecstasy and madness. Every set of self-respecting Gods needs one like him on the team. In a way he represents excess, the excess of human emotion and passion. Every so often we all need a good binge of some sort and any god that denies our needs is a very poor god. Dionysus gets it. He understands. And he is capable of great good and filling the needs of his subjects, but his whims can easily slip into darkness. In this play he presents himself in a clam collective manner; he does not really represent the aspects of human nature he is god of: he merely facilitates them. He gives man the opportunity to go too far; it’s up to him if he takes it and falls into complete intoxication. And this bespeaks his enthralling power. He is not controlling and does not tamper with free-will, if his subjects worship him to heavily then it is of their own accord. The Dionysian cult Euripides creates here is one completely necessary in the society of Ancient Greece. He is the solution for the ongoing battle between freedom and restraint. He suggests that the irrational and the indulgent are both necessary for society to function and develop. Any society that denies these things will fall apart in misery. So Dionysus is an important force, but one that should be taken is small measures. So this is a good play, and it’s completely character driven and loaded with this message (supposedly as a learning tool.) It’s real fun to read.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Roy Lotz

    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 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 element of suspense. When you read one of Shakespeare’s tragedies, you know that it will end badly for the protagonist (and at least a few other people)—otherwise it wouldn’t be a tragedy. But there always seems to be a glimmer of hope, a chance that it could’ve turned out differently. The tragic outcome hinges on the character of the tragic hero; the final result is tragic because of that tantalizing “what if?” which lingers in the air as the curtain falls. But in the plays of the Greek tragedians, the story is a fait accompli. Everything happens because of the will of the gods, or the mysterious hand of fate. Every character inexorably fulfills their destiny. The only thing they can do, it seems, is to sing about how awful their situation is. Thus we get line after line of the chorus—interrupting the action like a song in a musical, telling the audience what they already know in sing-song verse. This isn't the fault of the playwrights. Because hardly anybody can read Ancient Greek nowadays, we’re forced to read the plays in translation; and poetry is always sub par in translation. Also, these chorus interludes actually did have music when they were performed; so it’s a bit unfair to judge them merely as poetry. (Imagine if archaeologists dug up a book of Beatles lyrics 2,000 years from now. They would have no idea why the Beatles were such a hit.) Nietzsche thought this aspect of Greek tragedy was the root of its power. In his first published work, The Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche spills much ink in describing his love for the unbridled spirit of life in the music of the Greek tragic chorus. For Nietzsche, the very fact that the music wasn’t ‘realistic’—that it didn’t attempt to portray the facts of life—is what gave it its tremendous power. This is why Nietzsche thought that Euripides was decadent. Euripides is distinguished from Aeschylus and Sophocles precisely for his realism. His plays actually do have that element of unpredictability we’ve come to expect from modern tragedy. We don’t feel that the action is foreordained; that the people are merely acting out the decree of Fate. When his characters give monologues, the poetry doesn’t seem stylized or wooden—like old song-lyrics do. Rather, Euripides seeks to portray the psychology of his protagonists as if they were real people; the final result is more like reading someone's thoughts than reading sing-song poetry. This is not to say that he didn’t include mythological or fantastic elements. Take this play. For a completely illogical reason, the god Dionysus decides to wreak havoc in Thebes. He doesn’t do it for the sake of justice; nor to accomplish some goal. He does it, more or less, on a whim. This is what makes the action of the play so shocking. It’s as if the reader has been dropped in via helicopter down on some battlefield, and is forced to watch the senseless violence. Nietzsche admired, almost worshiped, the Dionysian impulse—the mad impulse to riot, to dance, to sing, to live. He found in the character of Dionysus the solution to everything wrong with Christian morality and the scientific mentality. Nietzsche believed that the drive to divide up the world into good and evil, and to value the literal truth above figurative myth, destroys man’s ability to reach his highest potential. But Euripides sees something much darker and devious in the character of Dionysus. Euripides sees that, once morality and truth are abandoned, one is left only with naked power. And naked power can be used just as easily for wanton destruction as for beneficent creation. So it’s hard for me to agree with Nietzsche and consider Euripides as a decadent playwright. Every one of his plays I’ve so far read has been a dramatic masterpiece; and when you think about them, there’s usually an intriguing lesson to be learned, a thought to be pondered. Aeschylus and Sophocles remain partially veiled in translation; their music, lost to time. But now, I can at least say I’ve found one Greek playwright I ‘get’.

  4. 5 out of 5

    mina reads™️

    “Your name means grief you are suited for it” Dionysus remains my favorite of the pantheon

  5. 4 out of 5

    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 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 tend to be short, meaning that they last generally only as long as about a third of a Shakespeare play (though when they were performed in ancient times, it would usually be along with three others plays). The Bacchae is about change and about the resistance to change and how our attempts to resist change is generally futile. Mind you it is a tragedy and it does have a pretty bloody ending (in that a number of the main characters end up dead, though the progenitor of change, Dionysus, doesn't, but then again he is a god). There are two things that do strike me about this play, the first being how there are reflections of Christianity in it, particularly early Christianity, and the second involves reflections of the modern rave culture. However, before I go into exploring those two aspects of the play I should give a bit of a background so you may understand where I am coming from. The cult of Dionysus was a rather new cult to appear in Ancient Greece, as far as the gods are concerned, and he was not one of the traditional gods of the pantheon. He apparently was introduced through migrations from the north, particularly through Thrace. The cult itself was a mystery cult, meaning that the rituals and celebrations tended to be conducted behind closed doors (and this comes out in the Bacchae, particularly since the main worshippers were women). The celebrations (as also comes out in the Bacchae) generally involved drunken revelries out in the bush. The Bacchae itself is set in the mythical period of Ancient Greece in the city of Thebes. The king of Thebes, Penthius, is concerned about this new cult that has appeared that is seducing all of the women into joining. As such he goes out of his way to attempt to put an end to it, including arresting Dionysus. It is interesting that Dionysus, unlike the gods in many of the other Greek plays, has a major role. Most of the gods in Greek drama tend to only come in at the beginning or the end, either to provide an introduction, or to intervene in a hopeless situation. However Dionysus is one of the major characters in this play. Anyway Dionysius, in an attempt to defend his cult (and one wonders if his portrayal here is similar to the charismatic cult leaders that we have seen throughout history) convinces Pentheus to spy on one of the celebrations. However, in a drunken haze, the women in the midst of their celebration mistake Pentheus for an mountain goat, capture him, and tear him to pieces. However, the women do not get away scot free as they are exiled for, well, murder, despite their arguments that they were not in control of their faculties at the time. The idea of the new cult is something that societies have faced throughout time, and it goes to show that the Roman persecution of Christianity is something that is not limited to that particular religion at that particular time. It is interesting to note that in the play Pentheus does not believe that Dionysus is a god, despite certain actions (such as blowing up his palace) that suggest otherwise. Further, the ignorance of the bacchic rites is also similar to Roman ignorance of certain Christian rites, such as the Lord's Supper. Some have even suggested that Dionysus is a Christ figure, and the introduction to the play even has some similarities with the virgin birth. For instance, Dionysus is born of a woman but has Zeus as his father (though unlike Christianity, where the term 'conceived of the Holy Spirit' does not indicate a sexual union between God and Mary, where it is clear from this play that there was a sexual union between Zeus and Dionysus' mother, though this can be put down to our failure to understand, or accept, the possibility that conception can occur outside of sexual union, though these days this is changing). More interesting is that Dionysus mother is accused of extra-marital sex, which Mary also faced. Another interesting note is that after Dionysus' birth, Zeus hides him to protect him from being killed by a jealous Hera, which has reflections in the Christ story in that Jesus was spirited off to Egypt to protect himself from the murderous rampages of a jealous king. Some might suggest that I am drawing some rather tenuous examples here, but I would argue otherwise. One of the reasons is generally because of the fear of Christians to look outside the box. We are more than happy to accept the Bible, but to consider anything outside of that, particularly with regards to pagan representations (or could they be prophecies) of the Christ, can open up to many probabilities. I guess it has to do with the conservative bent that most Christians have, in that what has been done over hundreds of years has proven itself and anything that is new can be dangerous or even destructive. However, remember what Paul writes in the book of Thessalonians: test everything, hold onto what is good, and reject what is bad. He did not say 'reject everything' but to 'test everything' which includes age old traditions. I want to finish off with a comment on the modern rave scene. Okay, the idea of the outdoor rave out in the bush rose out of Britian where, in an attempt to stamp out drug use, the government made raves themselves illegal. However, it could also be suggested that the reason the mystery cults of ancient Greece met out in the bush was because they were also illegal. However (particularly since I have been to raves myself) there is something almost bacchic about the rave. The idea of taking drugs to induce feelings of pleasure, as well as the lights and the sounds adding to that, reflects what was occurring here in the Bacchae. In many cases, the rituals were sensual experiments in pleasure, which is similar to what happens at a rave. This also goes to show that the rave is not something new, but something that has been going on for centuries.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Moira Russell

    ....no, I don't know why Elvis's mugshot is on the cover either. ....no, I don't know why Elvis's mugshot is on the cover either.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Ted

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. 113th book of 2021. CADMUS And whose head do you hold in your hands? AGAVE (averting her eyes) A lion's . . . The huntresses . . . They said . . . CADMUS Look at it properly. Just a quick glance. AGAVE What is it? What am I holding in my hands? CADMUS Look closely now. Be sure. AGAVE Ah! No! No! I see the greatest sorrow. CADMUS Does it still look like a lion? AGAVE No! No. It is . . . Oh gods! It is Pentheus's head I hold. CADMUS Now you see who I was mourning. AGAVE Who killed him? How did he come to be in my ha 113th book of 2021. CADMUS And whose head do you hold in your hands? AGAVE (averting her eyes) A lion's . . . The huntresses . . . They said . . . CADMUS Look at it properly. Just a quick glance. AGAVE What is it? What am I holding in my hands? CADMUS Look closely now. Be sure. AGAVE Ah! No! No! I see the greatest sorrow. CADMUS Does it still look like a lion? AGAVE No! No. It is . . . Oh gods! It is Pentheus's head I hold. CADMUS Now you see who I was mourning. AGAVE Who killed him? How did he come to be in my hands? CADMUS This is too hard, this truth. It took so long to come to this. AGAVE Tell me! Please! My heart beats with terror. CADMUS You killed him. You and yours sisters. AGAVE Where did it happen? Here, at home? Where? CADMUS On Cithaeron, where the dogs tore Actaeon apart. AGAVE Cithaeron? But why was Pentheus there? CADMUS He went to mock the gods, and your rituals. AGAVE But we - why were we there? CADMUS You were out of your wits. The whole city was possessed by Bacchus. AGAVE I see. Dionysus has destroyed us all. CADMUS You enraged him. You denied him as a god. AGAVE And where, Father, is the rest of my poor son? CADMUS (pointing to the stretcher) Here. I found all I could. AGAVE Is he complete, and recently arranged? But why should Pentheus suffer for my crime? CADMUS Like you, he refused the god. And so the god ruined us all: you, your sisters, and this boy. This house is destroyed as well, and me with it. I have no male heirs, and now I have lived to see the fruit of your womb so shamefully destroyed. (addressing the corpse) It was through you, my boy, that this house regained its sight. It was you, my daughter's son, who held the palace together and the citizens in line. It was you who would punish anyone who slighted me. But now I shall be dishonoured, an outcast from my own home. I, Cadmus the great, who sowed the Theban race and reaped that glorious harvest. Dearest of men - for even in death I count you as the man I love the best - no more will you stroke my beard, child, no more will you hug me, call me 'Grandfather' or say: 'Has anyone wronged you or shown you disrespect? Has anyone disturbed or hurt you? Tell me, Grandfather, and I will punish them.' But now there is grief for me and a shroud for you, and pity for your mother and her sisters. If anyone still disputes the power of heaven, let them look at this boy's death and they will see that the gods live.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Luís

    Dionysus returns to the land of his birth, the city of Thebes, in disguise. He is angry at the women of Thebes for denying him his rights of worship and sends them all mad. The women become his Bacchantes and run off into the forest to revel in the rights of Dionysus. They become drunk with wine and dance in wild displays of Dionysian rituals. He is especially angry with the family of Cadmus and seeks their destruction. The chaste and prudish King of Thebes, Pentheus, is furious when he returns Dionysus returns to the land of his birth, the city of Thebes, in disguise. He is angry at the women of Thebes for denying him his rights of worship and sends them all mad. The women become his Bacchantes and run off into the forest to revel in the rights of Dionysus. They become drunk with wine and dance in wild displays of Dionysian rituals. He is especially angry with the family of Cadmus and seeks their destruction. The chaste and prudish King of Thebes, Pentheus, is furious when he returns to discover the women, including his mother, have gone off into the forest. His grandfather Cadmus and the seer, Tiresias, also decide to join the women in the woods, wisely realizing the danger of going against the wishes of the Gods. As an attempt at restoring order, Pentheus orders the destruction of Tiresias' shrine, and he has the disguised Dionysus imprisoned. The women, however, he has not been able to overcome. After Dionysus regains his freedom, the God convinces Pentheus to dress as a woman and enter the forest as one of the Bacchantes to go among them in disguise and find his mother and bring her back to the city. After dressing as one of the female Bacchantes, Pentheus enters the forest and finds the women's dwelling place. However, Dionysus achieves his ultimate revenge by driving the women in their madness to think that Pentheus is a wild beast. The women, at Pentheus' mother's insistence, fall upon Pentheus and tear him to pieces. Agave, his mother, hods Pentheus' head in her hands imagining it to be that of a wild beast and Dionysus' revenge is complete. After the dreadful act has taken place, Dionysus releases the women from their madness, and Agave realizes that she has destroyed her son. Dionysus reveals himself as the God he is and tells the former Bacchantes that he had Pentheus killed because he refused to honour and worship him and thus put himself against the will of the gods. Agave and Cadmus protest at the dreadful punishment bestowed on Pentheus and Cadmus' family, and they sent into exile.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    Antigone on PCP Sophocles' 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 essentially the same debate. Dionysos shows up in his birthplace of Thebes to start his cult, with a band of ecstatic lady followers in tow. Antigone on PCP Sophocles' 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 essentially the same debate. Dionysos shows up in his birthplace of Thebes to start his cult, with a band of ecstatic lady followers in tow. Theban leader Pentheus (also Dionysos' cousin, which doesn't particularly come into play) is all "You guys are nuts and I'm having none of this bullshit." And Dionysos responds. Because this is Euripides, who's relatively lurid, Dionysos' reaction seems completely out of proportion, at least to me: (view spoiler)[he sends Pentheus's mom into a frenzy during which she tears off Pentheus's head. (hide spoiler)] Holy shit, right? Isn't that sortof a ripoff of True Blood season 2? But the point is authority vs. freedom, a theme the Greeks returned to again and again - see, in addition to Antigone, that whole Socrates thing. This is about what leadership should be - what should be led and what left alone - and it's a good thing the Greeks spent so much time thinking about it, considering that they were in the process of inventing leadership as we know it. And that exploration, cast through the double-crazy lens of Dionysos and Euripides, is terrific. Guys, I'm so glad I figured this out. My original review was like "WTF is this, I don't get it," and I feel way smarter now. Also, now I really like this play. High five! Also: nice to see the old blind sex-shifting prophet Tiresias, as he gets ready to go out Bacchaeing with Pentheus's grandfather: Well, where do we dance? Where do we let our footsteps fall and waggle our decrepit grizzly heads? which is something I might put on my tombstone. Tiresias kicks ass. This is a review of the play, not this translation; I used Paul Roche's translation, which was (as usual) fine.

  10. 4 out of 5

    saïd

    This review is of the translation by Reginald Gibbons.οὐκ οἶσθ᾽ ὅ τι ζῇς, οὐδ᾽ ὃ δρᾷς, οὐδ᾽ ὅστις εἶ. (506)I've been trying to think of how I'd translate this line from Euripides's ΒΆΚΧΑΙ. Dionysos meets the king of Thebes, who introduces himself as Pentheus, and Dionysos remarks that the name is unlucky or sorrowful (507-508). The joke is that Pentheus's name (Πενθεύς) is derived from a word for sorrow (πένθος). The exchange goes thusly:ΠΕΝΘΕΎΣ. Πενθεύς, Ἀγαύης παῖς, πατρὸς δ᾽ Ἐχίονος. [PENTHEUS This review is of the translation by Reginald Gibbons.οὐκ οἶσθ᾽ ὅ τι ζῇς, οὐδ᾽ ὃ δρᾷς, οὐδ᾽ ὅστις εἶ. (506)I've been trying to think of how I'd translate this line from Euripides's ΒΆΚΧΑΙ. Dionysos meets the king of Thebes, who introduces himself as Pentheus, and Dionysos remarks that the name is unlucky or sorrowful (507-508). The joke is that Pentheus's name (Πενθεύς) is derived from a word for sorrow (πένθος). The exchange goes thusly:ΠΕΝΘΕΎΣ. Πενθεύς, Ἀγαύης παῖς, πατρὸς δ᾽ Ἐχίονος. [PENTHEUS. Pentheus, Agaue's child, my father's Ekhion.] ΔΙΌΝΥΣΟΣ. ἐνδυστυχῆσαι τοὔνομ᾽ ἐπιτήδειος εἶ. [DIONYSOS. Unfortunate name—it suits you.]Most English-language translations I've read simply add a sentence or footnote explaining the meaning of Pentheus's name, and thus why the joke is funny: "Pentheus means 'sorrow.' The name fits you well," in Philip Vellacott's translation; "Your name means grief, and you are suited for it," Reginald Gibbons's (this one); "That is the saddest name I’ve ever heard," in Anne Carson's; "Pentheus: you shall repent that name," William Arrowsmith's; "Misfortune becomes you, with a name like that" (footnote: "the Greek word for grief is penthos"), Paul Woodruff's; "You have a name that makes you ripe for disaster" (footnote: "The line alludes to the resemblance between Pentheus’ name and penthos [‘grief’]"), John Davie's; etc. But the question I have isn't really how best to translate this line literally, it's how to translate it equivalently. In French for example this would actually work rather well:— On m'appelle Tristan, scion d'Agave ; mon père est etc. — Un nom plus triste que tout ce que j'ai entendu ; ça te va.The name "Tristan" isn't actually from tristesse but rather the Celtic name "Drystan," itself derived from drest (riot, tumult), but the two are close enough to homophonous for the joke to be viable. Interestingly, the actual French translation (by Jean-Daniel Magnin) says, "Maudits soient ces noms, tu vivras dans le malheur...!" which is just terrible. Anyway, I don't like this translation.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Vivian

    Don't mess with Dionysus. Again, the gods don't take slights well. To be fair, not having your mother acknowledged in her home town can irritate. Pentheus makes the classic mistake of discounting/refuting a god -- big mistake. So we have the hubris of the leader of Thebes leading to his ate (foolish act) resulting in nemesis, which to be fair is a kinda dark and disturbing. Not going to spoil it because it's too awesome, but if you have a familiarity with Orpheus you know where this is headed. I g Don't mess with Dionysus. Again, the gods don't take slights well. To be fair, not having your mother acknowledged in her home town can irritate. Pentheus makes the classic mistake of discounting/refuting a god -- big mistake. So we have the hubris of the leader of Thebes leading to his ate (foolish act) resulting in nemesis, which to be fair is a kinda dark and disturbing. Not going to spoil it because it's too awesome, but if you have a familiarity with Orpheus you know where this is headed. I guess the thing I found most fascinating were the parallels between Dionysus' evolving story line and later cults *cough* Christianity *cough*. Reading this has pushed forward my interest in digging into Orphism. And don't mess with maenads.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Keely

    This is the greatest Greek play I have read. I am just speechless. The way Euripides crafted this play was just...no words can give it justice. The rising intensity, the characters, the writing. I'll leave the rest of my thoughts for my actual review but...wow. Just wow. This is the greatest Greek play I have read. I am just speechless. The way Euripides crafted this play was just...no words can give it justice. The rising intensity, the characters, the writing. I'll leave the rest of my thoughts for my actual review but...wow. Just wow.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Maria A 🌙

    This is why I dont go to parties

  14. 4 out of 5

    Théodore

    Very enjoyable. The whole story is seen as a tragedy, but I, personally, had a lot of fun. I wonder why Nietzsche, who drank only water and milk in his lifetime, was influenced by a god of wine. On the contrary, Dyonisus is not a god who Socrates could respect, because his actions challenge Socrates' beliefs. And Socrates had no problem with alcohol. Who said that birds of a feather flock together ? Very enjoyable. The whole story is seen as a tragedy, but I, personally, had a lot of fun. I wonder why Nietzsche, who drank only water and milk in his lifetime, was influenced by a god of wine. On the contrary, Dyonisus is not a god who Socrates could respect, because his actions challenge Socrates' beliefs. And Socrates had no problem with alcohol. Who said that birds of a feather flock together ?

  15. 5 out of 5

    Lois

    Translator: Philip Vellacott This was such a fascinating read, particularly after rereading The Secret History not too long ago, where the Bacchae plays a pretty important role. If you know, you know. Vellacott's translation was beautifully written and easy to read, too. Dark, compulsive, frightening. Translator: Philip Vellacott This was such a fascinating read, particularly after rereading The Secret History not too long ago, where the Bacchae plays a pretty important role. If you know, you know. Vellacott's translation was beautifully written and easy to read, too. Dark, compulsive, frightening.

  16. 5 out of 5

    saïd

    This review is of the translation by Anne Carson. σπαραγμός Unfortunately this is my favourite version of this play. Something about Dr. Carson's sense of humour just fits perfectly with Euripides's Dionysos. This review is of the translation by Anne Carson. σπαραγμός Unfortunately this is my favourite version of this play. Something about Dr. Carson's sense of humour just fits perfectly with Euripides's Dionysos.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Yu

    The main idea is communal intoxication and insanity through ritualistic practice. But I don't think Euripides' language or portrayal of violent scenery conveys the sense very strongly. The main idea is communal intoxication and insanity through ritualistic practice. But I don't think Euripides' language or portrayal of violent scenery conveys the sense very strongly.

  18. 5 out of 5

    ink

    deserved

  19. 5 out of 5

    d.a.v.i.d

    Whiplash! How else can I describe the quick transition from Pearl S. Buck’s Korea to Euripides’ Greece? This play would be authentic and current in any era, including today. Amazing. Stunning. Euripides lived from 480-406 BCE. In this play, the protagonist, Dionysus, is the son of a mortal mother, Semele, and a divine ruler of the world, Zeus. He appears on Earth in human form, he is killed and resurrected. Sound like any other figure in history you might have heard about? Dionysus, young and immor Whiplash! How else can I describe the quick transition from Pearl S. Buck’s Korea to Euripides’ Greece? This play would be authentic and current in any era, including today. Amazing. Stunning. Euripides lived from 480-406 BCE. In this play, the protagonist, Dionysus, is the son of a mortal mother, Semele, and a divine ruler of the world, Zeus. He appears on Earth in human form, he is killed and resurrected. Sound like any other figure in history you might have heard about? Dionysus, young and immortal, male and feminine, smiling and savage, born in Thebes but considered a barbarian, an animal, and a G-d. That is quite a lot to pack into one character. Oh, and I almost forgot, he is very into wine. His rival, and of course, his cousin, Pentheus, the king, is a somewhat conflicted man, unsettled in his sexuality, shall we say? It is incredible how Euripides deconstructs the outwardly mannish king in a comedic and not insulting way, so that you must laugh in the middle of a great tragedy. This head of state appears darling in his royal gown and wig, when he is only slightly prodded to cross dress. (there is no reference to a Queen). It is his last play, published posthumously, but it is an incomparable psychological masterpiece. Who knew? It is a study, in every aspect, of opposites. Dichotomies in each character. Wow. Unlike Medea, (I have not read Phaedra) an example of extreme feminine emotionality; in Bacchae, the protagonist is male, yet the plays’ main concern is femininity, again; in thought, desire, and mind. This is what consumes Euripides thoughts and pen. And the chorus, always the chorus. Fascinating. Dithyrambs. Offstage in this production, carrying verses to the main platform by way of messenger. Imagine, this is twenty-five hundred years ago. In this period, the actors are all men, wearing masks to assume different roles. The audiences, in the thousands, are all men. I apologize, ladies, but I am only a reporter. It is almost inconceivable, to me, how this could be pulled off, and I would give a hundred bitcoins, to be in the audience and to witness this through modern eyes. It is short piece and I do not want to give any of it away. However, Euripides is peerless. What's next? Aristophanes? Sophocles? Surely not the news.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Oblomov

    Dionysus is the true God of Tits and Wine and there is a lot of that in here. Also madness, death, orgies, cross dressing and suckling wildlife. Imagine reading the script to some x-rated and campy, 80's video-nasty, but you can feel smugly pretentious about it. Story wise, this is one of vengeance, with the debauched God returning to his late mother's homeland to avenge himself on his maternal family, those who dared deny both his greatness and his mother's story that her boyfriend was an Olypmi Dionysus is the true God of Tits and Wine and there is a lot of that in here. Also madness, death, orgies, cross dressing and suckling wildlife. Imagine reading the script to some x-rated and campy, 80's video-nasty, but you can feel smugly pretentious about it. Story wise, this is one of vengeance, with the debauched God returning to his late mother's homeland to avenge himself on his maternal family, those who dared deny both his greatness and his mother's story that her boyfriend was an Olypmian God. Since extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence, Dionysus proves his divinity by sending a bunch of women stark raving bonkers, and most of the play concerns Dionysus (disguised as a Dionysian priest) and Pentheus (King of Thebes and the God's cousin) having an argument about the former's divinity and spread of his worship. There's also voyuerism, house destruction, 'sparagmos' (move over defenestration, I've a new favourite word for an oddly specific murder technique) and a slightly Lovecraftian breakdown of sanity when faced with the divine, ultimately ending with Pentheus paying badly for his disrespect. The whole thing is gory and silly, and Dionysus is wonderfully sarcastic and cryptic throughout. The play seems to have only one sole moral: do not piss off the Pantheon because they are an arrogant and vengeful bunch. As messages go it's brutally simple and brutally played out, and the simplicity of it manages to be a strength, with the play feeling more stupidly fun and gruesome than tragedy.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Vendela

    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 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 the worship of apollo and dionysus and what that means and how that is depicted in the play and now i'm basically dead of feelings. basically. like. "oh will i, sometime, in the all-night dances, dance again, barefoot, rapt, again, in Bacchus, all in Bacchus again? Will I throw my bared throat back, to the cool night back, the way, oh, in the green joys of the meadow, the way a fawn frisks, leaps, throws itself--" the chorus is ALL THIS INCREDIBLE FLOW. and it's formatted beautifully, in a way that is hard to recreate here, really, but you just have to trust me that the LINE BREAKS are incredible i am in raptures over the line breaks. and dionysus. and nussbaum's introduction. READ IT.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lady Mayfair

    We have forgotten "that agreement, age with age, we made to deck our wands, to dress in skins of fawn and crown our heads with ivy." * * * Oh Bacchae! Oh Bacchae! Follow, glory of golden Tmolus hymning Dionysus with a rumble of drums, with the cry, Euhoi! to the Euhoian God, with the cries in Phrygian melodies, when the holy pipe like honey plays the sacred song for those who go to the mountain! to the mountain! * * * We do not trifle with divinity. No, we are the heirs of customs and traditions hallowed by We have forgotten "that agreement, age with age, we made to deck our wands, to dress in skins of fawn and crown our heads with ivy." * * * Oh Bacchae! Oh Bacchae! Follow, glory of golden Tmolus hymning Dionysus with a rumble of drums, with the cry, Euhoi! to the Euhoian God, with the cries in Phrygian melodies, when the holy pipe like honey plays the sacred song for those who go to the mountain! to the mountain! * * * We do not trifle with divinity. No, we are the heirs of customs and traditions hallowed by age and handed down to us by our fathers. No quibbling logic can topple them, whatever subtleties this clever age invents. People may say "Aren't you ashamed? At your age, going dancing, wreathing your head with ivy?" Well, I am not ashamed. Did the gods declare that just the young or just the old should dance? No, he desires his honour from all mankind. He wants no one excluded from his worship.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Bradley

    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 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 madness of which is written? Is there truly any difference? *shudder*

  24. 4 out of 5

    M.L. Rio

    This is a marvelous play and one of my favorites. Anne Carson's new translation is poetic and lovely, but in some places I think she takes the modernization a little too far and some words feel anachronistic and jarring. This is a marvelous play and one of my favorites. Anne Carson's new translation is poetic and lovely, but in some places I think she takes the modernization a little too far and some words feel anachronistic and jarring.

  25. 5 out of 5

    yarrow

    Anne Carson's translation really captures a lot of nuance in the story that I haven't picked up in other versions. Very powerful and with a lot of complexity. Her introductory poem is also really enjoyable. Anne Carson's translation really captures a lot of nuance in the story that I haven't picked up in other versions. Very powerful and with a lot of complexity. Her introductory poem is also really enjoyable.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Alice

    "Gods should not be like mortals in temper" "Gods should not be like mortals in temper"

  27. 4 out of 5

    c e c e l i a

    no thoughts just city state identity

  28. 4 out of 5

    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 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 view). This terrifying play was written to satiate the audience's hunger for violence. Humanity hasn't become more violent or more crass or more debauched or more filthy through the centuries (or...millenia). It's actually uncanny how human nature has managed to sustain the same level of awful all throughout the years.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    I have been reading Anne Carson's translations of Greek tragedy. Bakkhai is a lesser-known drama, but deserves to be better known. It's theme is that it's not a terribly good idea to flout the divine, as Pentheus does. Dionysos in the beginning seems to be amenable to a wide range of behaviors, but Pentheus goads him until -- dressed as a woman -- he is murdered by his own mother in the presence of the Bakkhai (Bacchic women). As Anne Carson translates, Euripides at one point says:To live and th I have been reading Anne Carson's translations of Greek tragedy. Bakkhai is a lesser-known drama, but deserves to be better known. It's theme is that it's not a terribly good idea to flout the divine, as Pentheus does. Dionysos in the beginning seems to be amenable to a wide range of behaviors, but Pentheus goads him until -- dressed as a woman -- he is murdered by his own mother in the presence of the Bakkhai (Bacchic women). As Anne Carson translates, Euripides at one point says:To live and think and act within measure, reverencing the gods, this is a man's finest possession.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sean Chick

    A dark and bloody play about the wraith of the gods and the inability of man to fully suppress his more bestial appetites. This is the sort of stuff I want to write!

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