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The Bacchae: Stasimon 3, Lines 862-911

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Stasimon 3, Lines 862-911

The Chorus sings another ode. First they ask when they will be free again to dance all night in the Dionysian rites, joyfully in the open air, experiencing the same joy that a fawn might experience running free in the fields, not fearing the hunter.
 
The second section of the ode is more reflective. The Chorus sings in praise of winning honor by vanquishing one’s enemies. From that sentiment they move on to some general statements about morality and the laws of life: men who disregard the gods are punished; men should follow long-established tradition, because the principles enshrined in it are the laws of nature.
 
The Chorus then repeats its praise of revenge and offers more reflections on the hopes and happiness or unhappiness of men, concluding that the best of blessings is to receive the goodness of life every day.
 
Analysis
Some commentators have seen a disjunction between the twice-repeated praise of revenge as one of the greatest gifts of the gods and the more peaceful, reflective wisdom in the part of the ode that is contained within those two “revenge” passages. Perhaps the disjunction reflects the two contrasting elements in the play: the peacefulness and joy associated with the worship of Dionysus, and the violence unleashed when that worship is challenged or opposed. Seen in this light, the ode reflects these two poles of life. The revenge of the gods against those who do not respect them is simply a law of life, part of an inevitable cycle, and the Chorus recognizes this, as it also recognizes the precarious nature of human happiness.
 




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