Bakkhai (Greek Tragedy in New Translations) by Euripides, Reginald Gibbons, Charles Segal

By Euripides, Reginald Gibbons, Charles Segal

Appeared by way of many as Euripides' masterpiece, Bakkhai is a robust exam of spiritual ecstasy and the resistance to it. a choice for moderation, it rejects the temptation of natural cause in addition to natural sensuality, and is a staple of Greek tragedy, representing in constitution and thematics an exemplary version of the vintage tragic elements.Disguised as a tender holy guy, the god Bacchus arrives in Greece from Asia proclaiming his godhood and preaching his orgiastic faith. He expects to be embraced in Thebes, however the Theban king, Pentheus, forbids his humans to worship him and attempts to have him arrested. Enraged, Bacchus drives Pentheus mad and leads him to the mountains, the place Pentheus' personal mom, Agave, and the ladies of Thebes tear him to items in a Bacchic frenzy.Gibbons, a prize-winning poet, and Segal, a popular classicist, provide a talented new translation of this important textual content of Greek tragedy.

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Yet the play remains divided between the beauty of these rites, con46. See, for example, S. , The Standard Kdition of the Complete Psychological Works ofSigmund Freud, vol. 17 (London, 1955), 261. 47. See my Dionysiac Poetics, 339-47. 31 INTRODUCTION veyed in the lyrics of the first four odes, and the ruthlessness of the god's vengeance as it unfolds at the end. We never feel that Pentheus is right. Presumably a less vehemently hostile response would have averted the catastrophe. Yet, like many Greek tragedies, the Bakkhai makes us feel both the inexorability of divine justice and pity for the human victims.

Pentheus surrenders to something in himself as well as in Dionysos. " outside of the regular meter, and then makes the offer that Pentheus cannot resist. With a single word the god exposes and releases all the longings that Pentheus has fought against in himself. In fact, his loss of self-control plays directly into his opponent's hands, for it reveals that emotional vulnerability by which Dionysos will destroy him. Pentheus leaves the stage muddled and undecided (962-63): "I think that I'll go in.

Calling to the bacchants to join the rites, the chorus display the distinctive features of this new god's worship: delight in song, ecstatic dancing, the excitement of pulsing animal life, and the forgetting of self in the surge of intense group emotion. The first real action of the play, however, shows a very different area of the god's power as the two elders of Thebes —the prophet Teiresias and the former King Kadmos — enter carrying the fawn skin and the thryrsos, emblems of Dionysos' worship, on their way to join his devotees on the mountain.

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