The Bacchae Man and the Natural World Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Line). Every time a character talks counts as one line, even if what they say turns into a long monologue. We used Paul Roche's translation.
"There they sit among the rocks,
under the silvery pines--
a congregation in the open." (1)
It's significant that Dionysus drove all the women of Thebes out into the woods to celebrate his greatness. One of the central themes of the play is the tension that exists between the city of man and the natural world. Dionysus represents wild, untamed nature, so of course he'd drag the ladies out into the woods for his rituals.
"O Thebes, Semele's nurse
Put ivies round your turrets,
break forth in green" (3)
Did you catch the symbolism here? The Chorus invokes the image of the stone walls of Thebes being decked with greenery. It could be seen as symbolic of the relationship of man with the natural world – man being the city, nature being the ivy. Here, early in the play, the image is harmonious. Perhaps, the Chorus is still hopeful that Dionysus can bring Thebes around to his way of thinking without violence.
"Touch off the thunderbolt's sizzle of light.
Burn down, oh burn down the palace of Pentheus." (93)
Now nature is not being so friendly too the those who oppose Dionysus. Whereas before we got images of nature and man in harmony, now we see nature as fearful tool of punishment. Primal nature, like Dionysus, can be both a creative and destructive force in the lives of human beings.