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CT253 Lecture Notes - Maenad, Pentheus, Bromius

Contemporary Studies
Course Code
Barry Stephenson

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Ancients and Moderns
October 15, 2012
Week 6, Monday
who's agave (female)?
The mother of Pentheus
Agave's sister
agave's son, the king of thieves.
Definition, Plot, Themes
At least three kinds of meaning: can refer to works of art (bacchae is a tragedy), real life events and a
worldview. Three uses are generally intertwined.
If we consider the content of Greek tragedy, we find a number of themes:
Fate and catastrophe
Gods and heroes
Reversals of fortune
Pollution and sacrifice
Horrible endings
violence and purgation
Tragedy points to the cluster of thematic material.
Fear, horror, terror, pity.
Aristotle famously suggested that this mix of trauma and sorrow could engender a powerful, cathartic
experience in the viewer, so that tragedy served a cleansing, life affirming purpose.
Judeo christian narratives:
dante (author) the divine comedy
comedy's work out, tragedy's don't.
divine son of zeus and semele, also called Bromius or Bacchus
TIRESIAS: an old blind prophet
CADMUS: grandfather of both Dionysus and Pentheus, an old man.
PENTHEUS: young king of thebes, grandson of cadmus, cousin of Dionysus
AGAVE: mother of pentheus, daughter of cadmus, sister of semele.
play opens in front of a palace at Thebes, with a speech by Dionysus.
Make notes of the scenes and lines in the play that seem to you especially important or confusing.
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