Study Guide

The Bacchae Religion

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The central conflict of The Bacchae can be seen as a religious one. The god Dionysus comes home to Greece bringing with him the religion he's inspired all over Asia. When King Pentheus of Thebes refuses to worship him, the play erupts with violence. Part of what makes The Bacchae still timely today is its exploration of religious conflict.

Questions About Religion

  1. In what ways is religion used to liberate the play's characters? How is it used to control them?
  2. What similarities exist between the religious ideas of the ancient Greeks and those held within a Judeo-Christian worldview? Differences?
  3. What would you say is Pentheus's religion? How does he exhibit it?

Chew on This

Religion is a force of anarchy in the play.

The Bacchae shows how the suppression of religious practice can ultimately unravel society.

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