Class Notes (1,100,000)
CA (630,000)
UTSG (50,000)
CLA (1,000)
CLA232H1 (200)

Euripides' Bacchants

Course Code
Victoria Wohl

This preview shows pages 1-2. to view the full 6 pages of the document.
CLA232 Men, Gods, BeastsMonday January 24th 2011
Euripides Bacchants
Thus far, weve seen how the Greeks define themselves against the gods
Defined humans as mortals
In Theogony, although humans were not created, they were defined by their
limitations (need food to survive, work hard to sustain fire, by woman (reproduction)
the fact that we have to reproduce ourselves to survive as a species)
In Oedipus the King, again humans are defined by their mortality
Know thyself, we have to know ourselves and yet, how can we know ourselves?
(Oedipus asks himself this question)
Suggests that for humans, it may in fact be impossible to know ourselves, and if we
did that knowledge may destroy us
Repeatedly throughout the play, we see that he cannot know himself, and that the
search ultimately destroys him
Irony that anytime Oedipus tries to control his destiny they end up fulfilling it
In the course of fulfilling it, Oedipus comes to destroy himself
Even if we can attain knowledge about ourselves, we a) cant do anything about it b)
the knowledge will destroy us
The play asks us to think about what it would mean if he could escape his destiny
It would mean that the gods have no control (theyd told him what his destiny was,
and if he doesnt do it, it means that either the gods are not in control or that the
gods arent communicating with us through the oracles at Delphi)
If we cant trust the prophets, we have no means of overcoming the limitations of our
knowledge, no access to the divine will and what they have in store for us
Therefore, humans might as well not know anything
So, if Oedipus escapes his fate and the oracles are false, it means either the oracles
and prophets arent real or the gods are not in complete control profound
religious crisis
If the oracles arent true, religion crumbles ( no reason to worship the gods)

Only pages 1-2 are available for preview. Some parts have been intentionally blurred.

CLA232 Men, Gods, BeastsMonday January 24
th 2011
Euripides Bacchants
Irony; if the oracles are right, human knowledge is limited and futile, but if the
oracles are wrong human life is futile
Following the theme of Greeks defining themselves against the other, tragedies let
us play the other and imagine what it would be like to be the other, glad youre
not the other
Reaffirms the identity of the self, expands your notion of yourself
Few plays invite us to play the other as Euripides Bacchants
Allows men to experience as other as you can possibly get (beast, woman, god,
animals, etc.)
This experience of being/playing the other is both exhilarating and terrifying
Oedipus the King is an exploration of Know Thyself Gnothi Seauton
Bacchants is an exploration of Nothing in Excess Meden Agan
Just as Oedipus the King shows us just how difficult it is to know ourselves,
Bacchants shows us how difficult it is to adhere to Nothing in Excess
If you really life in a life without excess, will you be missing something of life?
Does excess actually allow us to know something else of ourselves?
Sophrosune : moderation, rationality, wisdom, restraint
Gnothi Seauton
Meden Agan
Central part of Greek ethical philosophy and religion
Not the only tenant of Greek religious and moral thought
Represents a very different kind of religious experience than Apollo and his
Wine, madness, theatre
You're Reading a Preview

Unlock to view full version