Study Guide

The Bacchae Fifth Choral Lyric

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Fifth Choral Lyric

  • The Chorus sings praises for the grisly death of Pentheus.
  • Agave enters clutching the head of her son. She still thinks it's the head of a mountain lion.
  • She brags to the Chorus about her kill and says that soon she will eat the head.
  • Her voice ringing out, she calls for all of Thebes to come and see her kill.
  • The deluded woman beckons for her son, Pentheus, to come and nail the lion's head to the wall. (We detect irony.)
  • Cadmus enters lamenting the death of Pentheus. He describes seeing the bloody remains of his grandson strewn about the forest.
  • The old man cries in shock as he sees Agave, his daughter, grasping Pentheus's head.
  • Agave brags to her father about her wonderful kill.
  • Cadmus weeps for the disaster that's befallen the family, pointing out that it's even worse because Dionysus was born of their own family line.
  • Still not comprehending what she's done, Agave dismisses Cadmus as a grumpy old man. She wishes that her son, Pentheus, were around; he's a good hunter and would appreciate her marvelous kill. (And more irony.)
  • Cadmus smacks some sense into his daughter.
  • With growing horror, Agave realizes she's holding the head of her own son.
  • Her father fills her in on the whole story.
  • Agave and her sisters mocked Dionysus, so the god drove them crazy, sending them off into the mountains to dance and go nuts.
  • Pentheus mocked Dionysus too, so he was torn apart where another family member, Actaeon, was torn apart by wild dogs.
  • Cadmus wails in sorrow, for now the last of his line is dead. He was the guy who founded Thebes to begin with, and now it's all over for his family.
  • Agave is wracked with grief and remorse.
  • She begs her father to let her perform the last rights for her son and asks if she may kiss each limb of his severed body.

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