madness

Topics: The Bacchae, Dionysus, Greek mythology Pages: 3 (977 words) Published: December 5, 2013

Maddness and sanity are seen to be universally known opposites. They are as different as two things can get. They are generally seen to be balancing forces such as light vs. Dark, yin vs. Yang, and so on. In the Baccae, Pentheus represents sanity, while Dionysus represents maddness. However, Euriprides portrays the struggle between maddness and sanity as one sided, rather than an even battle. Through out The Baccae, Euriprides hints at maddness being the ultimately dominant force in the battle between the two. Various events in the Baccae show that Euriprides believes that the battle between sanity and maddness is always in favor of the side of maddness, showing that maddness will always win in the end.

In the Baccae, the seer Tiresias chastises Pentheus for not honoring Dionysus. Pentheus has been arguing that all the new god's rituals are crazy, and he does not want them allowed in his city, to which Tiresias responds; "There is no cure for madness when the cure itself is mad." (22). Tiresias is trying to tell Pentheus that him that denying the madness that Dionysus brings is itself a crazy idea. Pentheus represents sanity and order, and he is trying to keep his city from falling into the hands of the maddness that follows Dionysus. But no matter how hard he tries, the struggle is between a god and a mortal. There is no way for Pentheus to win. This is Euripides showing that it is basically futile to fight maddness, and that ultimately, we have no choice in the matter. Maddness is so dominant over sanity, that we it is a waste of effort, and things would be much easier if we simply succumbed to maddness.

Speculating on the effect that Dionysus has brought with his presence, Pentheus says; "So, like a wildfire it already hurries here, outrageously, this mass hysteria, disgracing us before the whole of Thebes." (121) No matter how much Pentheus did to prevent madness from enveloping his city and his entire life, the power of madness is just too strong....
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