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Euripides Bacchants

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Victoria Wohl

January 23 , 2012 CLA232 Bacchants – Euripides  Alterity with humans and gods—defining Greeks by contrast  Last week limitation, immortal and all powerful, humans defined by lack of immortality  Theogony—humans not created but defined, Prometheus and zeus, gods exchange sacrifice fire and women, defines human necessity for sacrifice, fire, work hard everyday to stay alive, need women have to reproduce  Oedipus—limitation on knowledge, defining feature of human life, can’t know our future, gnothi seauton—know thyself and Oedipus shows how hard it is to know this  If anyone can know its him, great solver of the sphinx, very name has the word i know in it  The Delphic oracle tells us to know ourselves, sometimes cant do anything about it, asks if its possible as human beings given our limitations, even if it were possible what good would it do us, plays asks whats the point, and to live at random—bleak when true conditions of his life revealed he puts his eyes out, jocasta kills her self, can’t no man happy until dead  Bacchants based on “meden again”—nothing in excess—know the wisdom of this saying o Questions possibility and desirability of nothing in excess o If you live strict moderation, never do anything in excess, are you missing out on something in life, an essential experience, how can we know ourselves if we don’t know our limits, how do we know our limits if we don’t cross them o Oedipus and bacchants dramatize combined wisdom of Delphi of apolo o Together they constitute virtue—sophrosune: moderation, wisdom, restraint  Phros—diaphram, thought thats where thinking went on, meaning sense—so: means safe—thinking safe o Centre of morality Greeks associated with Apollo and civilized life int eh city o Not being hubristic or excessive o Central tenant of morality and religion o Dionysiac religion offers different moral and religious experience  Dionysus o God of wine and theatre o Sometimes included as a god sometimes not o Greek and foreighn o Male and female o Central and marginal to greek thought o Doubleness starts with his birth o Zeus became enamered with semele, affair got her pregnant, told her sisters, sisters laugh at her think shes lying about zeus, tell him to prove it to you, next time he came to her she asked him to prove it, and he burnt her to a crisp because hes a lightning bolt, takes baby out of her womb and puts it in his thigh, born of mortal and born of thigh of a god o Twice born—human and divine o Hera jealous and cruel to children zeus gives birth to o Sends titans to kill and eat them o Has to reconstitute baby from remains o Death in his mythology, this combination of humanity adn divinity, brings divinity into human life o Through his greatest gift, wine, see him on drinking cups and vases where you’d mix water with wine—notice word libation—liquid sacrifice—when drinking wine you poor out a bit of Dionysus, every time you drink wine you are worshipping him o Brings divinity into sad lonely limited lives o Wine makes us forget limited mortality, make us forget count no man hapy until dead o Tieresias says in bacchants: wine is a medicine for human condition o Depressing theme in earlier stories of our limitations forgotten in drinking o Then again drinking dangerous too, dangerous element represented in ecarius— dionysus arriving in Greece, acharius lets him live with him and Dionysus teaches him how to make wine, shares it with farmers, they get drunk and wondered what happened to us, thinking he poisoned them, and killed ikarios o Everytime you forget you sophrosune there is danger and madness o Essence of Dionysus is the exhileration and fear o Ambiguous experience o Maenads or bacchants crazy party girls that worship and follow him around o Sators other worshipers of Dionysus o Bacchants followed dion from asia, known as coming form asia, barbarian eastern land as are the bacchants o Practices it depicts may be based on real religious practice o Geopgraphy of mountain, mountain gets snow, rare in Greece, anecdote claiming women worshipping dion in mountains—escaping lives—women controlled in greek society, obeyed husbands, chastity and obedience, limits set narrowly, women could escape house, husbands children, etc o Girls gone wild o Girls up there in mountains without control of men o Offered escape from norms of everyday lives o Women escape men, men become women o Play stages inversion of gender roles and other norms o Old men, Cadmus and tieresias frollicing as if they were young—inversion o King and commoner—pentheus takes orders from Libyan stranger o Different from appoloan religion to know your self o Dionysus is to forget your self and go wild o Forget your role in society—forget your own individual identity o Group religion, worship by singing, dancing, drinking together, and lose your identity in group o Bacchants work as a unit o Even process human identity lost o Encouraged merger between worshipper and god, o ecstacy—ek-stasis—standing outside of your self—pentheus becomes a bacchants stands outside norms o Enthusiasm—en-theos: having a god inside—gives bacchants super human strength to rip up animals and resist weapons o God and mortal merge as god comes in you and you stand ourside your self o Dionysus religion looks like madness after appolon religion o Madness of Dionysian religion  Dionysis where does it fit in in greek culture? o Rituals involve percession that imitates the myth of arrival o Theme of arrival from outside in dionysias myth, thought it was an intrusion of greek religion and that Dionysus was foreign o When linear b deciphered found on tablets the name Dionysus, being worshipped as far back as any of the other gods, cant explain away his presence, but have to accept that the craziness and ecstacy came side by side with sophrosune o Complexity and nondogmatic state of greek religion o Different elements could and did coexist side by side o Worshipped throughtout greek world, lived with contradiction, worshipped hima s part of their pantheon o Appealed to minorities of Greece, less need to frget your self if youre a rich greek citizen rather than poor woman slave o Msg of escape spoke to downtrodden o Irrationality of dionysus associated with humanity o Passage: tieresias trying to rationalize myth of stitching into thigh, playing on greek word for titans or teno, trying to rationalize the myth, tieresias comes over to Dionysus side hes still rational and has to explain logically a myth o Point is tieresias and Cadmus explaining away—even though not a god, we get credit for acknowledging him as a god o Would men ahve prevented wives of going, but no direct evidence o Two element—paradox—worshipped not only by women by rational Athenian men down in the city o Very festival this play was produced—teh greater dionysia,, the city dionysia, happened in Athens city, other festivals in country side, three day festival in every spring in theatre of Dionysus, in religious centre of Athens o Central—honour god of theatre with theatre o Three tragedies with satar paly o Festival was entertainment, but also major civic event o Celebrated in huge ampether, fit 15,000 spectators, stone benches with all of your fellow citizens, some foreigners in audience and some women, majo
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