The Bacchae Theme of Man and the Natural World
Throughout The Bacchae there are images of humanity finding harmony with nature – ladies dancing in woods and mountains, drinking honey from the ground, breast-feeding baby animals (no, really). Of course, the play isn't just happy women prancing in the forest. We also see the destructive power that the natural world can wield – lighting, earthquakes, and man's own animal nature all take their toll on the characters in play. For more on this theme, check out "Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory" for in-depth discussions of the city vs. the wild, and man and nature in harmony.
Questions About Man and the Natural World
- What difference exists between the way the male characters interact with nature versus the way the female characters do?
- How are the settings of the city and the country juxtaposed by Euripides? How is this juxtaposition exemplified through human behavior?
- How does Euripides use imagery to blur the distinction between human and animal in this play?
- Where do you see evidence of Dionysus using nature to carry out his plan of revenge?
Chew on This
Nature can be seen as a force of both destruction and creation in The Bacchae.
In The Bacchae, nature is associated with the irrational whereas civilization is associated with the rational.