Study Guide

The Bacchae Fifth Episode

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Fifth Episode

  • A Messenger bursts in. He announces that Pentheus is dead.
  • Praise Bacchus, yells the Chorus Leader.
  • The Messenger chastises the woman for celebrating such a disaster.
  • He goes on to relate the horrible circumstances of Pentheus's death. (Warning: this is seriously messed up.)
  • The Messenger had accompanied Pentheus and the mysterious Stranger to spy on the Maenads.
  • The three of them hid in grove of pine trees and watched the women.
  • Pentheus said he couldn't see them very well. His mind still boggled by Dionysus's spell, he decided it was a good idea to go to the top of a tree and look from there.
  • As soon as he was at the top, the voice of Dionysus rang out, pointing out Pentheus to the Bacchants (the followers of Dionysus).
  • The god ordered his followers to punish Pentheus.
  • The Bacchants went absolutely crazy. They swarmed the tree, throwing rocks and stones.
  • When their attempt to climb it failed, Agave ordered them all to dig at the roots of the tree until it fell. The frenzied women clawed at the dirt and the tree toppled to the ground.
  • Agave was the first to get to Pentheus.
  • Yanking off his wig, Pentheus begged his mother not to hurt him.
  • Agave, eyes rolling in her frenzied trance, did not recognize him. With her mouth foaming, she ripped one of her son's arms off with her bare hands.
  • The other women then set upon Pentheus, tearing his skin from his bones.
  • By the end, everything was covered with the King's blood.
  • Agave stood triumphant, holding her son's head. The Messenger says that Agave apparently thinks it's the head of a mountain lion and is now on her way down from the mountain.

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