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.
"Well, how do I look?
Don't I have Aunt Ino's air,
and Agave my mother's carriage?" (180)
The beguiled, cross-dressing Pentheus seems to proud of his new found feminine beauty. Don't miss the irony of him comparing himself to his mother, the lady who's just about rip him limb from limb in a few pages. When this happens it could be seen as an inversion of stereotypical gender roles. Agave becomes the violent aggressor, while Pentheus becomes the helpless victim.
"Have mercy on me, Mother,
and because of my mistakes do not kill your son--your son." (225)
A mother killing her own son could be seen as a rejection of motherhood itself. Agave gave Pentheus life and now she is taking it away. This isn't the first time we see a mother killing her son in work of Euripides. Check out our guide to Medea for another example.
"come and see our catch:
the animal we Cadmean daughters caught and killed…
and not with nets or thronged Thessalian spears
but our own strong white hands." (259)
Agave and the other Maenads have taken on yet another traditionally male role. Earlier in the play they became warriors, and now they've become hunters as well. It's interesting that this happened through possession by a male god. Of course, Dionysus himself is said to be a bit effeminate, existing somewhere between male and female. Perhaps this blurring of the lines between the sexes is a way to bring human beings closer to him.