Study Guide

The Bacchae Foreignness and 'the Other'

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Foreignness and 'the Other'

The ancient Greeks were famously suspicious of foreigners. This suspicion runs all through The Bacchae. The play explores the dangerous tensions that arise when a foreign religion starts to take purchase in a new land. When the cult of Dionysus meets resistance upon arrival in Greece, no end of trouble happens. What complicates the issue in the play is that the god Dionysus is Greek himself. In a way he's foreigner in his own home. The play is full of these sorts of interesting dualities.

Questions About Foreignness and 'the Other'

  1. In what ways is Dionysus both Greek and foreign at the same time?
  2. How do Pentheus and Dionysus each view one another as foreign? What does this say about the meaning of foreignness with regard to perspective?
  3. How does the play explore what it means to feel like a foreigner in your own land?

Chew on This

Pentheus exhibits typical Greek prejudice towards foreigners.

The spread of the cult of Dionysus is a foreign invasion.

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