Study Guide

Dionysus, Pentheus, and Agave Rules and Order

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Rules and Order

No doubt the theme of Rules and Order is a big deal in this myth. For strict King Pentheus, it's everything. The King of Thebes does all he can to keep his city orderly in the face Dionysus' chaotic influence. Unfortunately for Pentheus, he fails miserably, and Dionysus' wild Bacchanals become a fixture in Theban and Greek life for thousands of years. You could interpret the myth as a lesson of what happens when laws become too strict. If people aren't allowed to ever blow off some steam, eventually they're bound to explode.

Questions About Rules and Order

  1. In what ways does Pentheus try to keep order in Thebes?
  2. Does Dionysus follow any rules? Explain your answer. 
  3. Do you think Pentheus is right to try and stop the spread of Dionysus' influence? Why, or why not?
  4. In what ways can Dionysus be seen as a foil for the law enforcing Pentheus?
  5. Is this story about the importance of rules, the unimportance of them, or something in between? Explain your answer.

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