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The Bacchae, Reactions And Interpretations Essay

2499 words - 10 pages

What are the reactions and interpretations of the Bacchic cult?An historian is influenced by their context, as anyone one is. One cannot escape the society that they live in and the ideals, values and social norms that it places on the individual. Religion is indeed a key focus within each society and the religion can have different impacts on the society and on the individual. Each society will hence forth respond differently as they are influenced by those ideals, values and social norms that that society is based on. A religion that was under key debate in the ancient world was the Bacchic cult and that issue is still resonated through the modern world. I will examine the ancient societies and modern society's reaction to the Bacchic cult and how their society influenced them and the way they reacted.It is important to discuss Dionysus as he is a key element in Bacchic cult. Dionysus is a paradox within a paradox, he challenges and re-invents. He has two distinct origins, on one hand he is the god of wine, agriculture and fertility and one the other the patron god of theatre. He is both male and female at once, young and old, wild and civilized, near and far, beyond and here below is joined in him by him. He abolishes the distance that separates the gods from men and men from animals. He is the god of ecstasy, madness and freedom. The Bacchic cult as such is not well known about and little is known about their practices. The Bacchic cult of Dionysian cult consisted of maenads, which translated means "Mad woman" The maenads were worshippers of Dionysus a.k.a Bacchus. They were mothers and wives who, upon being summoned by Dionysus would leave their domestic lives, their traditional roles to follow him. They would sacrifice bulls to Dionysus in the most savage and blood thirsty ways; omophagia, the eating of raw flesh. The purpose was to possess the raw energy and essence of the animal. Along with their super natural strength that required tearing a living animal to shreds, was that of occult powers. They could charm snakes and other beasts and weapons did not harm them. They could tap the ground with their Thyrsoi (Fennel rods tipped with Ivy and pinecones) it then flowed with milk, honey or wine. These were all doings of possession of Dionysus, along with drunken madness and melancholy silence.One of the reactors to the Bacchic cult and frenzy was that of Euripides. He wrote the play The Bacchae. The story is as follows; in the ancient town of Thebes uproar is taking place. Pentheus is enraged over a strange person who is taking the woman of Thebes and giving them supernatural powers, "The earth flows with milk, flows with wine, flows with nectar of bees" A stranger is hence forth brought to Pentheus and is demanded to tell all about this strange person. Unknown to Pentheus this is Dionysus himself. Pentheus enraged over this stranger's lack of respect for his authority orders him to be chained up in prison. Dionysus is taken away but alas...

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