The Bacchae Women and Femininity 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.
"Hm, my man--not a bad figure, eh?
At least for the ladies; […]
Nice ringlets, too…
no good for wrestling, though" (32)
The King compares the human form that Dionysus has taken to a woman. This is undoubtedly meant to demean the man that Pentheus thinks is just some foreign priest. The fact that being called effeminate is an insult is indicative of the low status of women in ancient Greek society. Of course, calling somebody a girly man isn't usually a compliment these days either, is it?
"Some [Maenads] lying on their backs upon the piney needles,
All modestly, not as you suggested, sir,
not in their cups, or in a flute-induced trance,
or any wildwood chase of love." (119)
The Herdsman corrects Pentheus's assumption that the Maenads are going around sleeping with everybody. If Pentheus were right about all the women acting loose, it would be a big no-no. Part of the suppression of women in ancient Greek was sexual. Wives were expected to stay at home and behave themselves, while men had a lot more freedom.
"Oh, the women wounded men, set men to flight…
that was not without some unknown power." (119)
It would've been hard for a ancient Greek male to believe that a woman could defeat a man in battle, as women were considered much weaker.