Study Guide

The Bacchae First Episode

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First Episode

  • Tiresias, the old blind seer, enters.
  • He's dressed in goat skins and ivy, which are the basic uniform for Dionysus's rituals.
  • He bangs on the palace doors, calling for Cadmus to come join him in the mountains.
  • Cadmus, Dionysus's human grandfather, enters and greets Tiresias warmly. They talk of how they're both really old, but not too old to boogie in the name of Dionysus.
  • Pentheus, King of Thebes, enters.
  • The King is super mad. He's come back from abroad, because he's heard that the women of Thebes are out partying in the name of Dionysus.
  • Pentheus has heard that big old orgies are going down in the woods.
  • He says he's arrested some of revelers and will soon catch the rest. He's even going to arrest his own mother Agave.
  • The King blames all the trouble on the mysterious Stranger with golden hair who has charmed all the ladies. (Pentheus doesn't realize that this person is Dionysus in human form.)
  • Pentheus says he's going to find the Stranger and cut off his head.
  • He thinks the whole story of Dionysus' birth is a lie.
  • The King notices Tiresias and Cadmus all decked out for the rituals. He criticizes them both, saying their old and foolish.
  • The Chorus leader interjects and tells Pentheus that he should be more respectful.
  • Tiresias chimes in as well. He tells Pentheus that Dionysus is indeed a great new god. He's brought the magic of wine to Greece, now the people have something to help ease their sorrows.
  • Tiresias says that Dionysus will soon be one of the most powerful gods in Greece, and that Pentheus better recognize him.
  • Cadmus warns the King, his grandson, not to trifle with Dionysus. For one, says Cadmus, it's nice to have a god in the family.
  • He also reminds his grandson of Aceton, a man who got ripped apart by wild dogs for saying he was a better hunter than the goddess, Artemis.
  • Pentheus is less than convinced.
  • He orders that somebody go and trash Tiresias's house to teach him a lesson.
  • The King also demands that someone capture this mysterious blonde Stranger, so that he can be stoned to death.
  • Tiresias tells Pentheus that he's a fool and hobbles away with Cadmus to beg mercy of Dionysus.

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