Study Guide

Dionysus, Pentheus, and Agave Pentheus

Pentheus

Poor King Pentheus... he's pretty easy to dislike. We bet nobody played with him on the playground. Dude's a total party pooper, right? This guy is bound and determined to not recognize the wine-lovin' Dionysus as a god. If you look a little closer, though, you might find that the King isn't as big of a stick in the mud as you thought.

Put yourself in Pentheus' position. You've got a nice, orderly city where everything is running smoothly. Then your crazy cousin shows up from wreaking havoc in Asia, saying that he's a god and that everybody in town has to get wasted and join his weird cult. We're guessing most people wouldn't be like, "Oh, sure that sounds like a great idea." So, maybe, just maybe, Pentheus up-tightedness isn't as bad as you thought.

Check out our "Symbolism" section to see how Pentheus' straight-laced ways might have a larger meaning. Also, don't miss our analysis of Pentheus in Euripides' The Bacchae.

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