Dionysus’s Effect on Women in Bacchae in the Ancient Athenian Society

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Paper 2(First draft) Seminar Julian Zon October/20/2012

Dionysus’s Effect on Women in Bacchae in the ancient Athenian society The position of women during the time of ancient Greek and ancient Rome, had been considered, mentally and physically weaker than most of the men, the duty for women was pretty different from their husbands. In the play of Bacchae, the impression of women had been totally changed by Euripides, "No sharp weapons, but you'd have seen one woman tear apart a young cow with her care hands- it was bellowing, its udder was swollen with milk". (737) This is something almost impossible for a woman to do but the power of women had been extremely magnified after intoxicated by Dionysus, their mind and soul had been taken away. Traditionally regarded as inferior to men in ancient times, the women in Bacchae have been strongly magnified through the intoxication of Dionysus. In the ancient time of Greek, the class of women were viewed as inferior to most of the men, none of them were given political powers, which is unfair. “One Athenian group that can without absurdity be called an exploited productive class was the women. They were unusually restricted in their property rights even by comparison with the women in other Greek states.” The position for men was much better when compare to women, they share more political rights and statistically, male had been named more frequently then women by historian.

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The Bacchae's most obvious perversion of custom and the question of gender demonstrate one way how impression of women is changed in the play. As Dionysus indicates early in the play, the enraptured band of Bacchant followers is comprised only of females: "Every woman in Thebes-but the women only I drove from home" (35-36). Though Cadmus further illuminates the matter by raising the question, "Are we the only men who will dance for Bacchus?" (195-196), the text offers no definitive explanation for why Dionysus calls solely upon the women...
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