Study Guide

The Bacchae Violence

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The Bacchae is full of gruesomeness and violence. You've got both animals and people being ripped apart. Not to mention a mother parading around with the ghastly, severed head of her own son. When watching the play we are forced to ask ourselves tough questions about violence. What is the difference between murdering and hunting? What is the meaning of blood ritual and sacrifice?

Questions About Violence

  1. Beyond the entertainment value that violence offers, what purpose does it serve within the play?
  2. What are some examples of passive or indirect violence within the play?
  3. How is violence linked to religious practice in Dionysus's rituals?

Chew on This

Pentheus's dismemberment is a human sacrifice.

The Bacchae blurs the lines between murder, blood sacrifice, and killing for the purposes of hunting.

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